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Stature and Status: Height, Ability, and Labor Market Outcomes

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  • Anne Case
  • Christina Paxson

Abstract

The well-known association between height and earnings is often thought to reflect factors such as self-esteem, social dominance, and discrimination. We offer a simpler explanation: height is positively associated with cognitive ability, which is rewarded in the labor market. Using data from the United States and the United Kingdom, we show that taller children have higher average cognitive test scores and that these test scores explain a large portion of the height premium in earnings. Children who have higher test scores also experience earlier adolescent growth spurts, so that height in adolescence serves as a marker of cognitive ability. (c) 2008 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved.

Suggested Citation

  • 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, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:v:116:y:2008:i:3:p:499-532
    DOI: 10.1086/589524
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    6. Nicola Persico & Andrew Postlewaite & Dan Silverman, 2001. "The Effect of Adolescent Experience on Labor Market Outcomes: The Case of Height, Third Version," PIER Working Paper Archive 04-013, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania, revised 15 Mar 2004.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
    • J3 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs

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