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The Height Premium in Earnings: The Role of Physical Capacity and Cognitive and Non-Cognitive Skills

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Author Info

  • Lundborg, Petter

    ()
    (Lund University)

  • Nystedt, Paul

    ()
    (Linköping University)

  • Rooth, Dan-Olof

    ()
    (Linnaeus University)

Abstract

The association between stature and favorable labor market outcomes has been extensively documented. Recent studies have attributed this height premium to cognitive and social skills. We offer an alternative explanation, where the premium mainly arises from the positive association between height and physical capacity. Accounting for the latter reduces the height premium by about 80 percent. By also accounting for cognitive and non-cognitive skills, we are able to explain the entire height premium. Our estimates are based on data from the military enlistment register that has been linked to earnings for the entire population of Swedish males aged 28-38 in 2003.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 4266.

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Length: 49 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2009
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Journal of Human Resources, 2014, 49(1), 141-166.
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4266

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Keywords: height premium; cognitive and non-cognitive skills; physical capacity; earnings;

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References

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  1. Jere R. Behrman & Mark R. Rosenzweig, 2004. "Returns to Birthweight," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(2), pages 586-601, May.
  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, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy 2011:5, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
  3. Lex Borghans & Angela Lee Duckworth & James J. Heckman & Bas ter Weel, 2008. "The Economics and Psychology of Personality Traits," Working Papers, Geary Institute, University College Dublin 200827, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
  4. 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..
  5. Sandra E. Black & Paul Devereux & Kjell Salvanes, 2006. "From the Cradle to the Labor Market? The Effect of Birth Weight on Adult Outcomes," CEE Discussion Papers, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE 0061, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE.
  6. 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.
  7. Nicola Persico & Andrew Postlewaite & Dan Silverman, 2004. "The Effect of Adolescent Experience on Labor Market Outcomes: The Case of Height," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(5), pages 1019-1053, October.
  8. Yona Rubinstein & James J. Heckman, 2001. "The Importance of Noncognitive Skills: Lessons from the GED Testing Program," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 145-149, May.
  9. Dinda, Soumyananda & Gangopadhyay, P.K. & Chattopadhyay, B.P. & Saiyed, H.N. & Pal, M. & Bharati, P., 2006. "Height, weight and earnings among coalminers in India," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 4(3), pages 342-350, December.
  10. Steckel, Richard H., 2009. "Heights and human welfare: Recent developments and new directions," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 1-23, January.
  11. Thomas, D. & Strauss, J., 1997. "Health and Wages: Evidence on Men and Women in Urban Brazil," Papers, RAND - Reprint Series 97-05, RAND - Reprint Series.
  12. John Komlos, . "Height and Social Status in Eighteenth-Century Germany," Articles by John Komlos, Department of Economics, University of Munich 27, Department of Economics, University of Munich.
  13. 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.
  14. Cawley, John & Heckman, James & Vytlacil, Edward, 2001. "Three observations on wages and measured cognitive ability," Labour Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 8(4), pages 419-442, September.
  15. Derek A. Neal & William R. Johnson, 1995. "The Role of Pre-Market Factors in Black-White Wage Differences," NBER Working Papers 5124, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Böckerman, Petri & Johansson, Edvard & Kiiskinen, Urpo & Heliövaara, Markku, 2010. "Does physical capacity explain the height premium?," MPRA Paper 20108, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Pierre-Andre Chiappori & Sonia Oreffice & Climent Quintana-Domeque, 2011. "Fatter Attraction: Anthropometric and Socioeconomic Matching on the Marriage Market," Discussion Papers, Columbia University, Department of Economics 1011-06, Columbia University, Department of Economics.
  3. Mariano Bosch & Carlos Bozzoli & Climent Quintana, 2009. "Infant mortality, income and adult stature in Spain," Working Papers 2009-27, FEDEA.
  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. Chiappori, Pierre-André & Oreffice, Sonia & Quintana-Domeque, Climent, 2009. "Fatter Attraction: Anthropometric and Socioeconomic Characteristics in the Marriage Market," IZA Discussion Papers 4594, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Mariano Bosch & Carlos Bozzoli & Climent Quintana, 2010. "The Evolution of Adult Height Across Spanish Regions 1950-1980: A New Source of Data," Working Papers 2010-01, FEDEA.
  7. Rooth, Dan-Olof, 2011. "Work out or out of work -- The labor market return to physical fitness and leisure sports activities," Labour Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 399-409, June.
  8. Oreffice, Sonia & Quintana-Domeque, Climent, 2010. "Anthropometry and socioeconomics among couples: Evidence in the United States," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 373-384, December.
  9. Lundborg, Petter & Nystedt, Paul & Rooth, Dan-Olof, 2010. "No Country for Fat Men? Obesity, Earnings, Skills, and Health among 450,000 Swedish Men," IZA Discussion Papers 4775, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  10. Böckerman, Petri & Johansson, Edvard & Kiiskinen, Urpo & Heliövaara, Markku, 2010. "The relationship between physical work and the height premium: Finnish evidence," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 414-420, December.
  11. Jere R. Behrman & John Hoddinott & John A. Maluccio & Reynaldo Martorell, 2009. "Brains versus Brawn: Labor Market Returns to Intellectual and Health Human Capital in a Poor Developing Country," Middlebury College Working Paper Series, Middlebury College, Department of Economics 0907, Middlebury College, Department of Economics.
  12. Lundborg, Petter & Nilsson, Anton & Rooth, Dan-Olof, 2011. "Early Life Health and Adult Earnings: Evidence from a Large Sample of Siblings and Twins," IZA Discussion Papers 5804, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  13. Björklund, Anders & Jäntti, Markus & Nybom, Martin, 2012. "The Role of Parental Income over the Life Cycle: A Comparison of Sweden and the UK," IZA Discussion Papers 7066, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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