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Height, health, and income in the US, 1984-2005

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  • Rashad, Inas

Abstract

Height has been associated with better physical health when outcomes such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity are considered, yet stature is rarely used in predicting comorbidities or as a proxy for physical health when analyzing outcomes such as income. Since height is a more exogenous measure than variables likely to be affected by lifestyle changes, such as obesity, observing labor market outcomes based on height may be revealing. In addition, gender and racial differences must be taken into account when analyzing the effects of height on physical health and labor market outcomes. This study utilizes the 1984-2005 samples of the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System in estimating trends in height over time by gender and race, and in analyzing the relationship between height and physical health and labor market outcomes in the United States. Trends show that height has not changed substantially at a time when physical health, as indicated by the incidence of obesity, Type II diabetes, and cholesterol, has deteriorated, and earnings disparities across racial gaps persist. Results at mean values for males indicate that being 10Â cm taller is associated with a 14-47% increase in obesity, an 8-13% reduction in cholesterol prevalence, and a $1874-2306 income premium. For females, results indicate that being 10Â cm taller is associated with an 8-18% reduction in cholesterol, a 14% reduction in diabetes for white females, and an $891-2243 earnings premium.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Economics & Human Biology.

Volume (Year): 6 (2008)
Issue (Month): 1 (March)
Pages: 108-126

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Handle: RePEc:eee:ehbiol:v:6:y:2008:i:1:p:108-126

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622964

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References

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  1. Burkhauser, Richard V. & Cawley, John, 2008. "Beyond BMI: The value of more accurate measures of fatness and obesity in social science research," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 519-529, March.
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  4. Nicola Persico & Andrew Postlewaite & Dan Silverman, 2001. "The Effect of Adolescent Experience on Labor Market Outcomes: The Case of Height, Third Version," PIER Working Paper Archive 04-013, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania, revised 05 Jan 2004.
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  7. Inas Rashad, 2006. "Structural Estimation of Caloric Intake, Exercise, Smoking, and Obesity," NBER Working Papers 11957, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. James J. Heckman, 1998. "Detecting Discrimination," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(2), pages 101-116, Spring.
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  10. Charles L. Baum & William F. Ford, 2004. "The wage effects of obesity: a longitudinal study," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 13(9), pages 885-899.
  11. John Komlos & Benjamin E. Lauderdale, 2007. "Underperformance in Affluence: The Remarkable Relative Decline in U.S. Heights in the Second Half of the 20th Century," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 88(2), pages 283-305.
  12. Nicola Persico & Andrew Postlewaite & Dan Silverman, 2003. "The Effect of Adolescent Experience on Labor Market Outcomes: The Case of Height," PIER Working Paper Archive 03-036, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
  13. John Komlos & Marieluise Baur, 2003. "From the Tallest to (One of) the Fattest: The Enigmatic Fate of the American Population in the 20th Century," CESifo Working Paper Series 1028, CESifo Group Munich.
  14. Dalton Conley & Rebecca Glauber, 2005. "Gender, Body Mass and Economic Status," NBER Working Papers 11343, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  16. Zagorsky, Jay L., 2005. "Health and wealth: The late-20th century obesity epidemic in the U.S," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 296-313, July.
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Cited by:
  1. M. Kunst & S. Bogaerts & T. Wilthagen & F. Winkel, 2010. "Income Attainment among Victims of Violence: Results From a Preliminary Study," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 95(1), pages 169-180, January.
  2. van den Berg, Gerard J. & Lundborg, Petter & Nystedt, Paul & Rooth, Dan-Olof, 2011. "Critical periods during childhood and adolescence: a study of adult height among immigrant siblings," Working Paper Series 2011:5, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
  3. Manfredini, Matteo & Breschi, Marco & Fornasin, Alessio & Seghieri, Chiara, 2013. "Height, socioeconomic status and marriage in Italy around 1900," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 11(4), pages 465-473.

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