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Wage Gains Associated with Height as a Form of Health Human Capital

  • T. Paul Schultz

Height is consulted as a latent indicator of early nutrition and lifetime health status. Height is observed to increase in recent decades in populations where per capita national income has increased and public health activities have grown. Height is determined by genetic make up and realized in part through satisfactory nutrition and health related care and conditions. Alternative instrumental variables (IV) are explored which proxy price and income constraints which are expected to influence the latter reproducible human capital investments in height. I report OLS and IV estimates of the partial effect of height on log hourly wages in recent national surveys from three countries: Ghana, Brazil and the United States. I conclude that the human capital productivity effect of height estimated by parent education IVs in the US and Ghana are many times larger than the OLS estimates, and in Ghana and Brazil the regional price IVs estimates also imply a substantially larger human capital wage effects of height compared with the OLS estimates. The OLS estimates of height effects on wages are dominated by the genetic variation in height, and appear to understate substantially the human capital returns to health and nutrition inputs which increase adult height.

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/000282802320191598
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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 92 (2002)
Issue (Month): 2 (May)
Pages: 349-353

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:92:y:2002:i:2:p:349-353
Note: DOI: 10.1257/000282802320191598
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  1. Strauss, John & Thomas, Duncan, 1995. "Human resources: Empirical modeling of household and family decisions," Handbook of Development Economics, in: Hollis Chenery & T.N. Srinivasan (ed.), Handbook of Development Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 34, pages 1883-2023 Elsevier.
  2. Strauss, John, 1986. "Does Better Nutrition Raise Farm Productivity?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(2), pages 297-320, April.
  3. Strauss, J. & Thomas, D., 1995. "Empirical Modeling of Household and Family Decisions," Papers 95-12, RAND - Reprint Series.
  4. Schultz, T-P, 1996. "Wage and Labor Supply effects of Illness in Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana : Instrumental Variable Estimates for Days Disabled," Papers 757, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
  5. Card, David, 1999. "The causal effect of education on earnings," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 30, pages 1801-1863 Elsevier.
  6. repec:oup:restud:v:64:y:1997:i:3:p:311-35 is not listed on IDEAS
  7. Deolalikar, Anil B, 1988. "Nutrition and Labor Productivity in Agriculture: Estimates for Rural South India," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 70(3), pages 406-13, August.
  8. Hanan G. Jacoby & Emmanuel Skoufias, 1997. "Risk, Financial Markets, and Human Capital in a Developing Country," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 64(3), pages 311-335.
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