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Size Matters! Body Height and Labor Market Discrimination: A Cross-European Analysis

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  • Francesco Cinnirella

    ()

  • Joachim Winter

Abstract

Taller workers earn on average higher salaries. Recent research has proposed cognitive abilities and social skills as explanations for the height-wage premium. Another possible mechanism, employer discrimination, has found little support. In this paper, we provide some evidence in favor of the discrimination hypothesis. Using a cross section of 13 countries, we show that there is a consistent height-wage premium across Europe and that it is largely due to occupational sorting. We show that height has a significant effect for the occupational sorting of employed workers but not for the self-employed. We interpret this result as evidence of employer discrimination in favor of taller workers. Our results are consistent with the theoretical predictions of recent models on statistical discrimination and employer learning.

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File URL: http://www.cesifo-group.de/portal/page/portal/DocBase_Content/WP/WP-CESifo_Working_Papers/wp-cesifo-2009/wp-cesifo-2009-07/cesifo1_wp2733.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 2733.

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Date of creation: 2009
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2733

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Related research

Keywords: height; wage premium; discrimination; cognitive functions; occupational sorting;

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References

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  1. Guido Heineck, 2005. "Up in the Skies? The Relationship between Body Height and Earnings in Germany ," LABOUR, CEIS, CEIS, vol. 19(3), pages 469-489, 09.
  2. Hamermesh, Daniel S & Biddle, Jeff E, 1994. "Beauty and the Labor Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 84(5), pages 1174-94, December.
  3. Anne Case & Christina Paxson, 2006. "Stature and Status: Height, Ability, and Labor Market Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 12466, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. 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.
  5. Mazzonna, Fabrizio & Peracchi, Franco, 2012. "Ageing, cognitive abilities and retirement," European Economic Review, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 56(4), pages 691-710.
  6. Robert W. Fairlie & Alicia Robb, 2007. "Families, Human Capital, and Small Business: Evidence from the Characteristics of Business Owners Survey," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 60(2), pages 225-245, January.
  7. Joseph G. Altonji & Charles R. Pierret, . "Employer Learning and Statistical Discrimination," IPR working papers, Institute for Policy Resarch at Northwestern University 97-18, Institute for Policy Resarch at Northwestern University.
  8. Anne Case & Christina Paxson & Mahnaz Islam, 2008. "Making Sense Of The Labor Market Height Premium: Evidence From The British Household Panel Survey," Working Papers, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Research Program in Development Studies. 1072, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Research Program in Development Studies..
  9. Joseph G. Altonji, 2005. "Employer Learning, Statistical Discrimination and Occupational Attainment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 112-117, May.
  10. Fabian Lange, 2007. "The Speed of Employer Learning," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25, pages 1-35.
  11. Giorgio Brunello & Margherita Fort & Guglielmo Weber, 2009. "Changes in Compulsory Schooling, Education and the Distribution of Wages in Europe," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(536), pages 516-539, 03.
  12. Altonji, Joseph G. & Blank, Rebecca M., 1999. "Race and gender in the labor market," Handbook of Labor Economics, Elsevier, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 48, pages 3143-3259 Elsevier.
  13. Francesco Cinnirella & Marc Piopiunik & Joachim Winter, 2010. "Why Does Height Matter for Educational Attainment? Evidence from German Pre-Teen Children," CESifo Working Paper Series 2983, CESifo Group Munich.
  14. Biddle, Jeff E & Hamermesh, Daniel S, 1998. "Beauty, Productivity, and Discrimination: Lawyers' Looks and Lucre," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(1), pages 172-201, January.
  15. Heineck, Guido, 2009. "Too tall to be smart? The relationship between height and cognitive abilities," Economics Letters, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 105(1), pages 78-80, October.
  16. Altonjii, Joseph G., 2005. "Employer Learning, Statistical Discrimination and Occupational Attainment," Working Papers, Yale University, Department of Economics 3, Yale University, Department of Economics.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Francesco Cinnirella & Marc Piopiunik & Joachim Winter, 2010. "Why Does Height Matter for Educational Attainment? Evidence from German Pre-Teen Children," CESifo Working Paper Series 2983, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. Michael Funke & Yu-Fu Chen, 2009. "Booms, Recessions and Financial Turmoil: A Fresh Look at Investment Decisions under Cyclical Uncertainty," Quantitative Macroeconomics Working Papers, Hamburg University, Department of Economics 20908, Hamburg University, Department of Economics.
  3. Marc Piopiunik, 2011. "Microeconometric Analyses of Education Production in Germany," ifo Beiträge zur Wirtschaftsforschung, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, number 40, 8.
  4. Böckerman, Petri & Vainiomäki, Jari, 2013. "Stature and life-time labor market outcomes: Accounting for unobserved differences," Labour Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 24(C), pages 86-96.
  5. Price, Gregory N., 2013. "The allometry of metabolism and stature: Worker fatigue and height in the Tanzanian labor market," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 11(4), pages 515-521.
  6. Chen, Yu-Fu & Funke, Michael, 2009. "Booms, Recessions and Financial Turmoil: A Fresh Look at Investment Decisions under Cyclical Uncertainty," SIRE Discussion Papers, Scottish Institute for Research in Economics (SIRE) 2009-31, Scottish Institute for Research in Economics (SIRE).

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