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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. Daniel S. Hamermesh & Jeff E. Biddle, 1993. "Beauty and the Labor Market," NBER Working Papers 4518, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. James J. Heckman & Jora Stixrud & Sergio Urzua, 2006. "The Effects of Cognitive and Noncognitive Abilities on Labor Market Outcomes and Social Behavior," NBER Working Papers 12006, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Thomas, Duncan & Strauss, John, 1997. "Health and wages: Evidence on men and women in urban Brazil," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 77(1), pages 159-185, March.
  4. 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.
  5. 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).
  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. van den Berg, Gerard J. & Lundborg, Petter & Nystedt, Paul & Rooth, Dan-Olof, 2012. "Critical Periods during Childhood and Adolescence: A Study of Adult Height among Immigrant Siblings," Working Papers 2012:23, Lund University, Department of Economics.
  8. Sandra E. Black & Paul Devereux & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2007. "From the Cradle to the Labor Market? The Effect of Birth Weight on Adult Outcomes," Working Papers 200718, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
  9. John Komlos, . "Height and Social Status in Eighteenth-Century Germany," Articles by John Komlos 27, Department of Economics, University of Munich.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. Neal, Derek A & Johnson, William R, 1996. "The Role of Premarket Factors in Black-White Wage Differences," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(5), pages 869-95, October.
  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. 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.
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