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Why does height matter for educational attainment? Evidence from German children

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  • Cinnirella, Francesco
  • Piopiunik, Marc
  • Winter, Joachim

Abstract

Height is positively associated with educational attainment. We investigate the mechanisms behind this relationship using data on German pre-teen students. We show that taller children are more likely to enroll in Gymnasium, the most academic secondary school track, and that primary school teachers provide more favorable school track decisions to taller students. We find that a 1cm increase in height is associated with a 1.6 percentage points increase in the probability of attending Gymnasium. This holds even when controlling for academic achievement and parental background. In addition, we present evidence that height and social skills are positively associated already at age 2–3. We propose the association between height and noncognitive skills as a possible explanation of the height-school premium, even if discrimination cannot be ruled out entirely.

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  • Cinnirella, Francesco & Piopiunik, Marc & Winter, Joachim, 2011. "Why does height matter for educational attainment? Evidence from German children," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 9(4), pages 407-418.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ehbiol:v:9:y:2011:i:4:p:407-418
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ehb.2011.04.006
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    4. Price, Gregory N., 2013. "The allometry of metabolism and stature: Worker fatigue and height in the Tanzanian labor market," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 11(4), pages 515-521.
    5. Eduardo A Undurraga & Leslie Zebrowitz & Dan T A Eisenberg & Victoria Reyes-García & TAPS Bolivia Study Team & Ricardo A Godoy, 2012. "The Perceived Benefits of Height: Strength, Dominance, Social Concern, and Knowledge among Bolivian Native Amazonians," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 7(5), pages 1-10, May.
    6. Rietveld, Cornelius A. & Hessels, Jolanda & van der Zwan, Peter, 2015. "The stature of the self-employed and its relation with earnings and satisfaction," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 17(C), pages 59-74.
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    10. Tao, Hung-Lin, 2020. "Gender-role ideology and height preference in mate selection," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 39(C).
    11. Salvatore, Ricardo, 2019. "The biological wellbeing of the working-poor: The height of prisoners in Buenos Aires Province, Argentina, 1885–1939," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 92-102.
    12. Bernardi, Martino & Bratti, Massimiliano & De Simone, Gianfranco, 2014. ""I wish I knew ..." - Misperceived Ability, School Track Counseling Services and Performances in Upper Secondary Education," IZA Discussion Papers 7940, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    13. Sohn, Kitae, 2015. "The height premium in Indonesia," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 16(C), pages 1-15.
    14. Tao, Hung-Lin, 2014. "Height, weight, and entry earnings of female graduates in Taiwan," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 13(C), pages 85-98.
    15. Dercon, Stefan & Sánchez, Alan, 2013. "Height in mid childhood and psychosocial competencies in late childhood: Evidence from four developing countries," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 11(4), pages 426-432.
    16. Huang, Ying & van Poppel, Frans & Lumey, L.H., 2015. "Differences in height by education among 371,105 Dutch military conscripts," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 17(C), pages 202-207.
    17. Eiji Yamamura & Yoshiro Tsutsui, 2016. "Comparing the role of height between men and women in the marriage market," Discussion Papers in Economics and Business 16-20, Osaka University, Graduate School of Economics.
    18. Cally Ardington & Megan Little, 2016. "The Impact of Maternal Death on Children's Health and Education Outcomes," SALDRU Working Papers 184, Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town.
    19. Carrieri, Vincenzo & De Paola, Maria, 2012. "Height and subjective well-being in Italy," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 289-298.
    20. Ogórek, Bartosz, 2019. "Talented but lazy. The height-school premium among Cracow’s schoolboys in the interwar period," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 252-256.
    21. Nicole Black & Sonja C. de New, 2020. "Short, Heavy and Underrated? Teacher Assessment Biases by Children's Body Size," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 82(5), pages 961-987, October.
    22. Wolter Hassink & Bas van Leeuwen, 2014. "A note on height and surnames: the role of networks," Journal of the Asia Pacific Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(4), pages 579-587, October.
    23. Murasko, Jason E., 2013. "Physical growth and cognitive skills in early-life: Evidence from a nationally representative US birth cohort," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 267-277.
    24. Yang, Xiao & Gao, Jian & Liu, Jin-Hu & Zhou, Tao, 2018. "Height conditions salary expectations: Evidence from large-scale data in China," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 501(C), pages 86-97.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Height; Height-school premium; Educational attainment; Social skills;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination

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