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Size Matters! Body Height and Labor Market Discrimination: A Cross-European Analysis

Listed author(s):
  • Francesco Cinnirella

    ()

  • Joachim Winter

Taller workers earn on average higher salaries. Recent research has proposed cognitive abilities and social skills as explanations for the height-wage premium. Another possible mechanism, employer discrimination, has found little support. In this paper, we provide some evidence in favor of the discrimination hypothesis. Using a cross section of 13 countries, we show that there is a consistent height-wage premium across Europe and that it is largely due to occupational sorting. We show that height has a significant effect for the occupational sorting of employed workers but not for the self-employed. We interpret this result as evidence of employer discrimination in favor of taller workers. Our results are consistent with the theoretical predictions of recent models on statistical discrimination and employer learning.

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File URL: http://www.cesifo-group.de/portal/page/portal/DocBase_Content/WP/WP-CESifo_Working_Papers/wp-cesifo-2009/wp-cesifo-2009-07/cesifo1_wp2733.pdf
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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 2733.

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Date of creation: 2009
Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2733
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  1. Giorgio Brunello & Margherita Fort & Guglielmo Weber, 2009. "Changes in Compulsory Schooling, Education and the Distribution of Wages in Europe," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(536), pages 516-539, 03.
  2. Robert W. Fairlie & Alicia Robb, 2007. "Families, Human Capital, and Small Business: Evidence from the Characteristics of Business Owners Survey," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 60(2), pages 225-245, January.
  3. Guido Heineck, 2005. "Up in the Skies? The Relationship between Body Height and Earnings in Germany," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 19(3), pages 469-489, 09.
  4. Case, Anne & Paxson, Christina & Islam, Mahnaz, 2009. "Making sense of the labor market height premium: Evidence from the British Household Panel Survey," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 102(3), pages 174-176, March.
  5. Hamermesh, Daniel S., 2006. "Changing looks and changing "discrimination": The beauty of economists," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 93(3), pages 405-412, December.
  6. Mazzonna, Fabrizio & Peracchi, Franco, 2012. "Ageing, cognitive abilities and retirement," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(4), pages 691-710.
  7. Heineck, Guido, 2009. "Too tall to be smart? The relationship between height and cognitive abilities," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 105(1), pages 78-80, October.
  8. Hamermesh, Daniel S & Biddle, Jeff E, 1994. "Beauty and the Labor Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(5), pages 1174-1194, December.
  9. 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, vol. 112(5), pages 1019-1053, October.
  10. Joseph G. Altonji & Charles R. Pierret, 2001. "Employer Learning and Statistical Discrimination," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(1), pages 313-350.
  11. Fabian Lange, 2007. "The Speed of Employer Learning," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25, pages 1-35.
  12. 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.
  13. Francesco Cinnirella & Marc Piopiunik & Joachim Winter, 2010. "Why Does Height Matter for Educational Attainment? Evidence from German Pre-Teen Children," CESifo Working Paper Series 2983, CESifo Group Munich.
  14. Altonji, Joseph G. & Blank, Rebecca M., 1999. "Race and gender in the labor market," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 48, pages 3143-3259 Elsevier.
  15. Joseph G. Altonji, 2005. "Employer Learning, Statistical Discrimination and Occupational Attainment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 112-117, May.
  16. Heineck, Guido, 2008. "A note on the height-wage differential in the UK - Cross-sectional evidence from the BHPS," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 98(3), pages 288-293, March.
  17. Altonjii, Joseph G., 2005. "Employer Learning, Statistical Discrimination and Occupational Attainment," Working Papers 3, Yale University, Department of Economics.
  18. Biddle, Jeff E & Hamermesh, Daniel S, 1998. "Beauty, Productivity, and Discrimination: Lawyers' Looks and Lucre," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(1), pages 172-201, January.
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