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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. van den Berg, Gerard J. & Lundborg, Petter & Nystedt, Paul & Rooth, Dan-Olof, 2011. "Critical periods during childhood and adolescence: a study of adult height among immigrant siblings," Working Paper Series 2011:5, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
  2. Anne Case & Christina Paxson, 2006. "Stature and status: Height, ability, and labor market outcomes," Working Papers 27, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing..
  3. 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.
  4. Borghans Lex & Lee Duckworth Angela & Heckman James J. & Weel Bas ter, 2008. "The Economics and Psychology of Personality Traits," ROA Research Memorandum 001, Maastricht University, Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA).
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Daniel S. Hamermesh & Jeff E. Biddle, 1993. "Beauty and the Labor Market," NBER Working Papers 4518, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Nicola Persico & Andrew Postlewaite & Dan Silverman, 2003. "The Effect of Adolescent Experience on Labor Market Outcomes: The Case of Height," PIER Working Paper Archive 03-036, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  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. John Komlos, . "Height and Social Status in Eighteenth-Century Germany," Articles by John Komlos 27, Department of Economics, University of Munich.
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