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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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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. 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.
  2. Daniel S. Hamermesh & Jeff E. Biddle, 1993. "Beauty and the Labor Market," NBER Working Papers 4518, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. 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.
  4. Robert W. Fairlie & Alicia Robb, 2004. "Families, Human Capital, and Small Business: Evidence from the Characteristics of Business Owners Survey," Yale School of Management Working Papers, Yale School of Management ysm435, Yale School of Management.
  5. Case, Anne & Paxson, Christina & Islam, Mahnaz, 2009. "Making sense of the labor market height premium: Evidence from the British Household Panel Survey," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 102(3), pages 174-176, March.
  6. 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.
  7. Anne Case & Christina Paxson, 2006. "Stature and status: Height, ability, and labor market outcomes," Working Papers 232, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  8. Mazzonna, Fabrizio & Peracchi, Franco, 2012. "Ageing, cognitive abilities and retirement," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(4), pages 691-710.
  9. Joseph G. Altonji & Charles R. Pierret, 1997. "Employer Learning and Statistical Discrimination," NBER Working Papers 6279, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Joseph G. Altonji, 2005. "Employer Learning, Statistical Discrimination and Occupational Attainment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 112-117, May.
  11. Altonjii, Joseph G., 2005. "Employer Learning, Statistical Discrimination and Occupational Attainment," Working Papers 3, Yale University, Department of Economics.
  12. 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.
  13. Jeff E. Biddle & Daniel S. Hamermesh, 1995. "Beauty, Productivity and Discrimination: Lawyers' Looks and Lucre," NBER Working Papers 5366, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. 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.
  15. Heineck, Guido, 2009. "Too tall to be smart? The relationship between height and cognitive abilities," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 105(1), pages 78-80, October.
  16. 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.
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Cited by:
  1. Yu-Fu Chen & Michael Funke, 2010. "Booms, Recessions And Financial Turmoil: A Fresh Look At Investment Decisions Under Cyclical Uncertainty," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 57(s1), pages 290-317, 07.
  2. Marc Piopiunik, 2011. "Microeconometric Analyses of Education Production in Germany," ifo Beiträge zur Wirtschaftsforschung, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, number 40, July.
  3. Bockerman, Petri & Vainiomäki, Jari, 2012. "Stature and life-time labor market outcomes: Accounting for unobserved differences," MPRA Paper 42220, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  4. 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.
  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.

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