Stature and Status: Height, Ability, and Labor Market Outcomes
AbstractIt has long been recognized that taller adults hold jobs of higher status and, on average, earn more than other workers. A large number of hypotheses have been put forward to explain the association between height and earnings. In developed countries, researchers have emphasized factors such as self esteem, social dominance, and discrimination. In this paper, we offer a simpler explanation: On average, taller people earn more because they are smarter. As early as age 3 %u2014 before schooling has had a chance to play a role %u2014 and throughout childhood, taller children perform significantly better on cognitive tests. The correlation between height in childhood and adulthood is approximately 0.7 for both men and women, so that tall children are much more likely to become tall adults. As adults, taller individuals are more likely to select into higher paying occupations that require more advanced verbal and numerical skills and greater intelligence, for which they earn handsome returns. Using four data sets from the US and the UK, we find that the height premium in adult earnings can be explained by childhood scores on cognitive tests. Furthermore, we show that taller adults select into occupations that have higher cognitive skill requirements and lower physical skill demands.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12466.
Date of creation: Aug 2006
Date of revision:
Note: AG CH HC HE LS
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Other versions of this item:
- Anne Case & Christina Paxson, 2008. "Stature and Status: Height, Ability, and Labor Market Outcomes," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(3), pages 499-532, 06.
- I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
- J3 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2006-08-26 (All new papers)
- NEP-LAB-2006-08-26 (Labour Economics)
- NEP-LTV-2006-08-26 (Unemployment, Inequality & Poverty)
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- John Strauss & Duncan Thomas, 1998.
"Health, Nutrition, and Economic Development,"
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American Economic Association, vol. 36(2), pages 766-817, June.
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