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Height as a Proxy for Cognitive and Non-Cognitive Ability

Author

Listed:
  • Andreas Schick
  • Richard H. Steckel

Abstract

Taller workers receive a substantial wage premium. Studies extending back to the middle of the last century attribute the premium to non-cognitive abilities, which are associated with stature and rewarded in the labor market. More recent research argues that cognitive abilities explain the stature-wage relationship. This paper reconciles the competing views by recognizing that net nutrition, a major determinant of adult height, is integral to our cognitive and non-cognitive development. Using data from Britain's National Childhood Development Study (NCDS), we show that taller children have higher average cognitive and non-cognitive test scores, and that each aptitude accounts for a substantial and roughly equal portion of the stature premium. Together these abilities explain why taller people have higher wages.

Suggested Citation

  • Andreas Schick & Richard H. Steckel, 2010. "Height as a Proxy for Cognitive and Non-Cognitive Ability," NBER Working Papers 16570, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16570
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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w16570.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Guido Heineck, 2005. "Up in the Skies? The Relationship between Body Height and Earnings in Germany," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 19(3), pages 469-489, September.
    2. Markus M. Mobius & Tanya S. Rosenblat, 2006. "Why Beauty Matters," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(1), pages 222-235, March.
    3. 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.
    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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Figueroa, José Luis, 2014. "Distributional effects of Oportunidades on early child development," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 42-49.
    2. Dora L. Costa, 2015. "Health and the Economy in the United States from 1750 to the Present," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 53(3), pages 503-570, September.
    3. Rietveld, Cornelius A. & Hessels, Jolanda & van der Zwan, Peter, 2015. "The stature of the self-employed and its relation with earnings and satisfaction," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 17(C), pages 59-74.
    4. Donna Feir & M. Chris Auld, 2017. "The Effect of Indian Residential Schools on Height and Body Mass Post-1930," Department Discussion Papers 1703, Department of Economics, University of Victoria.
    5. Olaf Hübler, 2013. "Are Tall People Less Risk Averse Than Others?," Schmollers Jahrbuch : Journal of Applied Social Science Studies / Zeitschrift für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 133(1), pages 23-42.
    6. Guven, Cahit & Lee, Wang-Sheng, 2015. "Height, aging and cognitive abilities across Europe," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 16(C), pages 16-29.
    7. Petter Lundborg & Paul Nystedt & Dan-Olof Rooth, 2014. "Height and Earnings: The Role of Cognitive and Noncognitive Skills," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 49(1), pages 141-166.
    8. Dirk Van de gaer & Joost Vandenbossche & José Luis Figueroa, 2014. "Children's Health Opportunities and Project Evaluation: Mexico's Oportunidades Program," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 28(2), pages 282-310.
    9. Almond, Douglas & Currie, Janet & Herrmann, Mariesa, 2012. "From infant to mother: Early disease environment and future maternal health," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(4), pages 475-483.
    10. Vanessa Scholes, 2014. "You Are Not Worth the Risk: Lawful Discrimination in Hiring," Rationality, Markets and Morals, Frankfurt School Verlag, Frankfurt School of Finance & Management, vol. 5(82), February.
    11. Micheli, Martin, 2015. "Does height affect labor supply? Implications of product variety and caloric needs," Ruhr Economic Papers 566, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    12. Lång, Elisabeth & Nystedt, Paul, 2016. "Learning For Life? The Effects of Schooling on Earnings and Health- Related Behavior Over the Life Cycle," LiU Working Papers in Economics 4, Linköping University, Division of Economics, Department of Management and Engineering.
    13. Janet Currie & Tom Vogl, 2013. "Early-Life Health and Adult Circumstance in Developing Countries," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 5(1), pages 1-36, May.
    14. Guven, Cahit & Lee, Wang-Sheng, 2011. "Height and Cognitive Function among Older Europeans: Do People from "Tall" Countries Have Superior Cognitive Abilities?," IZA Discussion Papers 6210, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    15. PAN, Jay & QIN, Xuezheng & LIU, Gordon G., 2013. "The impact of body size on urban employment: Evidence from China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 27(C), pages 249-263.
    16. J. L. Figueroa, 2013. "Distributional effects of OPORTUNIDADES on early child development," Working Papers of Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University, Belgium 13/840, Ghent University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.
    17. repec:pri:rpdevs:currie_vogl_ar is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • N3 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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