case_paxson_height - Stature and Status: Height, Ability,...

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499 [ Journal of Political Economy, 2008, vol. 116, no. 3] q 2008 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved. 0022-3808/2008/11603-0003$10.00 Stature and Status: Height, Ability, and Labor Market Outcomes Anne Case and Christina Paxson Princeton University The well-known association between height and earnings is often thought to reFect factors such as self-esteem, social dominance, and discrimination. We offer a simpler explanation: height is positively associated with cognitive ability, which is rewarded in the labor market. Using data from the United States and the United Kingdom, we show that taller children have higher average cognitive test scores and that these test scores explain a large portion of the height premium in earnings. Children who have higher test scores also experience earlier adolescent growth spurts, so that height in adolescence serves as a marker of cognitive ability. I. Introduction It has long been recognized that taller adults hold jobs of higher status and, on average, earn more than other workers. Empirical research on height and success in the U.S. labor market dates back at least a century. Gowin (1915), for example, presents survey evidence documenting the difference in the distributions of heights of executives and of “average men.” Gowin also compares the heights of persons of differing status in the same profession, ±nding that bishops are taller on average than preachers in small towns, and sales managers are taller than salesmen, with similar results for lawyers, teachers, and railroad employees (32). We thank Tom Vogl and Mahnaz Islam for expert research assistance, Angus Deaton for comments on an earlier draft, and two anonymous referees for useful comments. This research has been supported by grant HD041141 from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and grant P01 AG005842 from the National Institute on Aging.
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500 journal of political economy Height continues to be highly correlated with labor market success in developed countries. Figure 1 provides evidence from the United States and the United Kingdom that more highly skilled jobs attract taller workers. American men in white-collar occupations are an inch taller, on average, than men in blue-collar occupations. Among 30-year- old men in the United Kingdom, those working in professional and managerial occupations are 0.6 inch taller on average than those in manual occupations. Results for women are quite similar: in the United Kingdom, women working as professionals and managers are an inch taller on average than those in manual unskilled occupations. Taller people also have higher average earnings. Table 1 presents results on the relationship between the logarithm of earnings (both weekly and hourly) and height for men and women from the National Child Development Study (NCDS), a British birth cohort study of chil- dren born in 1958; the British Cohort Study (BCS), a birth cohort study of children born in 1970; and the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID), a longitudinal study of U.S. households. (The British samples, which we use later in the paper, are discussed below.) For both men
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This note was uploaded on 02/04/2010 for the course ECON 7395 taught by Professor Staff during the Spring '08 term at University of Houston.

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case_paxson_height - Stature and Status: Height, Ability,...

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