« Very smart Friend | Gene Expression Front Page | Brown tiger »
October 21, 2003

Taller ~ Richer ?

I'm sure you've all read this article about talller people making more $$$ (big surprise!), but check out this interesting commentary from Future Pundit. He switches back & forth between the height (important) and IQ (more important) variables and compares & contrasts.

Posted by razib at 12:14 AM




There was an article about three months ago, which you Gene guys must have missed, which reported about research in which it was discovered that tall people make more money not because they are tall, but because being tall helps them develop self confidence during the critical high school years.

High school kids who were short but had a late growth spurt make the same money as kids who were short in high school and stayed short.

Height probably isn't as big a deal in Japan because in that country there is much less emphasis on personality.

Posted by: Gordon Gekko at October 21, 2003 12:43 PM


That article was in the New York Times, and I think, by Natalie Angier. I need independent corroboration for what she writes.

Posted by: rob at October 21, 2003 01:15 PM


i saw a similar article about a year ago in SLATE i think.... (to the angier one)

Posted by: razib at October 21, 2003 03:18 PM


The problem with the self confidence hypothesis is that it does not seem to be able to explain or predict. Baumeister et al published a study a while back that showed self esteem was related to little besides perceived happiness. While self-confidence and self-esteem are different, I believe they are close cousins.

I would be tempted to say the height/success relationship is a outgrowth of IQ (as there is a positive correlation between IQ and height), but the relationship doess not appear to be functional (i.e., only between families, not within).

I think we have the case of a predictor variable, and a lot of folks trying to give it explanatory status. More data needs to be gathered before too much more can be said about the realtionship.

Posted by: Alex B. at October 21, 2003 07:23 PM


The original paper is "The Effect of Adolescent Experience on Labor Market Outcomes: The Case of Height" by Nicola Persico, Andrew Postlewaite and Dan Silverman.

link:

http://www.ssc.upenn.edu/~persico/research/Papers/short.pdf

Posted by: Eric at October 21, 2003 07:28 PM


Based on my own observations and experiences, I am convinced that the guys at Penn are absolutely correct.

The tall kid in high school has all the girls like him and he's good at sports. The short kids has the opposite experience.

Its during these critical high school years that kids learn how to interact well with others. The short kids who are more likely to be less popular than the tall kids simply fall behind in interpersonal skills and self-confidence.

And I'm not talkingi about "self-esteem" which is liberal pycho-mumbo-jumbo that has nothing to do with how good your interpersonal skills are.

Posted by: Gordon Gekko at October 23, 2003 07:18 AM