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The Height Premium in Earnings: The Role of Physical Capacity and Cognitive and Non-Cognitive Skills

  • Lundborg, Petter

    ()

    (Lund University)

  • Nystedt, Paul

    ()

    (Linköping University)

  • Rooth, Dan-Olof

    ()

    (Linnaeus University)

The association between stature and favorable labor market outcomes has been extensively documented. Recent studies have attributed this height premium to cognitive and social skills. We offer an alternative explanation, where the premium mainly arises from the positive association between height and physical capacity. Accounting for the latter reduces the height premium by about 80 percent. By also accounting for cognitive and non-cognitive skills, we are able to explain the entire height premium. Our estimates are based on data from the military enlistment register that has been linked to earnings for the entire population of Swedish males aged 28-38 in 2003.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 4266.

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Length: 49 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2009
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Journal of Human Resources, 2014, 49(1), 141-166.
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4266
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  1. Sandra E. Black & Paul J. Devereux & Kjell Salvanes, 2005. "From the Cradle to the Labor Market? The Effect of Birth Weight on Adult Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 11796, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Cawley, John & Heckman, James & Vytlacil, Edward, 2001. "Three observations on wages and measured cognitive ability," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(4), pages 419-442, September.
  3. Dinda, Soumyananda & Gangopadhyay, P.K. & Chattopadhyay, B.P. & Saiyed, H.N. & Pal, M. & Bharati, P., 2006. "Height, weight and earnings among coalminers in India," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 4(3), pages 342-350, December.
  4. Borghans, Lex & Duckworth, Angela Lee & Heckman, James J. & ter Weel, Bas, 2008. "The Economics and Psychology of Personality Traits," IZA Discussion Papers 3333, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Yona Rubinstein & James J. Heckman, 2001. "The Importance of Noncognitive Skills: Lessons from the GED Testing Program," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 145-149, May.
  6. Anne Case & Christina Paxson, 2006. "Stature and status: Height, ability, and labor market outcomes," Working Papers 232, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  7. 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.
  8. James J. Heckman & Jora Stixrud & Sergio Urzua, 2006. "The Effects of Cognitive and Noncognitive Abilities on Labor Market Outcomes and Social Behavior," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(3), pages 411-482, July.
  9. Jere R. Behrman & Mark R. Rosenzweig, 2004. "Returns to Birthweight," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(2), pages 586-601, May.
  10. Thomas, D. & Strauss, J., 1997. "Health and Wages: Evidence on Men and Women in Urban Brazil," Papers 97-05, RAND - Reprint Series.
  11. John Komlos, . "Height and Social Status in Eighteenth-Century Germany," Articles by John Komlos 27, Department of Economics, University of Munich.
  12. van den Berg, G. J & Lundborg P & Nystedt P & Rooth D, 2009. "Critical Periods During Childhood and Adolescence: A Study of Adult Height Among Immigrant Siblings," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 09/20, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.
  13. Hamermesh, Daniel S & Biddle, Jeff E, 1994. "Beauty and the Labor Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(5), pages 1174-94, December.
  14. Richard H. Steckel, 2008. "Heights and Human Welfare: Recent Developments and New Directions," NBER Working Papers 14536, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Derek A. Neal & William R. Johnson, 1995. "The Role of Pre-Market Factors in Black-White Wage Differences," NBER Working Papers 5124, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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