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Why Does Height Matter for Educational Attainment? Evidence from German Pre-Teen Children

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  • Francesco Cinnirella

    ()

  • Marc Piopiunik

    ()

  • Joachim Winter

Abstract

Several studies have shown that body height is positively associated with educational attainment. In this paper, we investigate the mechanisms behind this relationship using data on German pre-teen students. We show that (i) taller children are more likely to enroll in ‘Gymnasium’, the most academic secondary school track, and that (ii) primary school teachers give better recommendations to taller students. This holds even when controlling for academic achievement and parental background. In addition, we present some evidence that height and social skills are positively associated already at age 2-3. Our results imply that controlling for social skills would significantly reduce estimates of the height-school premium. With respect to education policy, our findings suggest that early school tracking might increase disadvantages for students with low social skills.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 2983.

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Date of creation: 2010
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2983

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Related research

Keywords: height; educational tracking; educational attainment; social skills;

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References

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  1. Flavio Cunha & James J. Heckman, 2009. "The Economics and Psychology of Inequality and Human DEvelopment," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 7(2-3), pages 320-364, 04-05.
  2. Anne Case & Christina Paxson, 2006. "Stature and status: Height, ability, and labor market outcomes," Working Papers, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing. 27, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing..
  3. Eric A. Hanushek & Ludger Wößmann, 2005. "Does Education Tracking Affect Performance and Inequality? Differences-In-Differences Evidence Across Countries," Discussion Papers, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research 04-026, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  4. 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.
  5. Strauss, John & Thomas, Duncan, 1996. "Measurement and Mismeasurement of Social Indicators," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 30-34, May.
  6. Anne Case & Christina Paxson & Mahnaz Islam, 2008. "Making Sense of the Labor Market Height Premium: Evidence From the British Household Panel Survey," NBER Working Papers 14007, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Christian Dustmann, 2004. "Parental background, secondary school track choice, and wages," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 56(2), pages 209-230, April.
  8. James J. Heckman & Jora Stixrud & Sergio Urzua, 2006. "The Effects of Cognitive and Noncognitive Abilities on Labor Market Outcomes and Social Behavior," NBER Working Papers 12006, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Gert G. Wagner & Joachim R. Frick & Jürgen Schupp, 2007. "The German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP): Scope, Evolution and Enhancements," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 1, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  10. Patrick Puhani & Andrea Weber, 2007. "Does the early bird catch the worm?," Empirical Economics, Springer, Springer, vol. 32(2), pages 359-386, May.
  11. Hendrik Jürges & Kerstin Schneider, 2007. "What Can Go Wrong Will Go Wrong: Birthday Effects and Early Tracking in the German School System," CESifo Working Paper Series 2055, CESifo Group Munich.
  12. Nicola Persico & Andrew Postlewaite & Dan Silverman, 2004. "The Effect of Adolescent Experience on Labor Market Outcomes: The Case of Height," NBER Working Papers 10522, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Melissa Osborne & Herbert Gintis & Samuel Bowles, 2001. "The Determinants of Earnings: A Behavioral Approach," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 39(4), pages 1137-1176, December.
  14. Jürgen Schupp & Gert G. Wagner, 2002. "Maintenance of and Innovation in Long-Term Panel Studies: The Case of the German Socio-Economic Panel (GSOEP)," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 276, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  15. Cunha, Flavio & Heckman, James J. & Lochner, Lance, 2006. "Interpreting the Evidence on Life Cycle Skill Formation," Handbook of the Economics of Education, Elsevier, Elsevier.
  16. Borghans Lex & Lee Duckworth Angela & Heckman James J. & Weel Bas ter, 2008. "The Economics and Psychology of Personality Traits," ROA Research Memorandum, Maastricht University, Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA) 001, Maastricht University, Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA).
  17. James Heckman & Pedro Carneiro & Flavio Cunha, 2004. "The Technology of Skill Formation," 2004 Meeting Papers, Society for Economic Dynamics 681, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  18. Cawley, John & Spiess, C. Katharina, 2008. "Obesity and skill attainment in early childhood," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 6(3), pages 388-397, December.
  19. James Heckman & Pedro Carneiro, 2003. "Human Capital Policy," NBER Working Papers 9495, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. 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.
  21. Doyle, Orla & Harmon, Colm P. & Heckman, James J. & Tremblay, Richard E., 2009. "Investing in early human development: Timing and economic efficiency," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 7(1), pages 1-6, March.
  22. Francesco Cinnirella & Joachim Winter, 2009. "Size Matters! Body Height and Labor Market Discrimination: A Cross-European Analysis," CESifo Working Paper Series 2733, CESifo Group Munich.
  23. Flavio Cunha & James J. Heckman, 2008. "Formulating, Identifying and Estimating the Technology of Cognitive and Noncognitive Skill Formation," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(4).
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Cited by:
  1. Francesco Cinnirella & Joachim Winter, 2009. "Size Matters! Body Height and Labor Market Discrimination: A Cross-European Analysis," CESifo Working Paper Series 2733, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. Martin Schlotter, 2011. "Age at Preschool Entrance and Noncognitive Skills before School - An Instrumental Variable Approach," Ifo Working Paper Series Ifo Working Paper No. 112, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich.
  3. Martin Schlotter, 2012. "Educational Production in Preschools and Schools - Microeconometric Evidence from 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 41, 8.
  4. Martin Schlotter, 2011. "The Effect of Preschool Attendance on Secondary School Track Choice in Germany - Evidence from Siblings," Ifo Working Paper Series Ifo Working Paper No. 106, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich.
  5. Marc Piopiunik, 2011. "Intergenerational Transmission of Education and Mediating Channels: Evidence from Compulsory Schooling Reforms in Germany," Ifo Working Paper Series Ifo Working Paper No. 107, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich.
  6. 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.

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