Size Does Matter: Taller Men Earn More

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By Rex Roy

tall menSo guys, will putting lifts in your loafers add extra girth to your wallet? Professionals have researched the answer...

One would like to think that employers value their hires for their work, not their height. Unfortunately, a recently published study by the international research firm Wiley-Blackwell revealed that taller people, particularly men, earn more money. Every two inches of height seems to be worth about $950 per year.

According to the study results published in The Economist Record (a Wiley-Blackwell publication), taller men can earn more money than their shorter counterparts simply because taller people are perceived to be more intelligent and powerful. Researchers did not believe that being taller provided any genuine benefit that helped employees actually perform better.

tall menSo guys, will putting lifts in your loafers add extra girth to your wallet? Professionals have researched the answer...

One would like to think that employers value their hires for their work, not their height. Unfortunately, a recently published study by the international research firm Wiley-Blackwell revealed that taller people, particularly men, earn more money. Every two inches of height seems to be worth about $950 per year.

According to the study results published in The Economist Record (a Wiley-Blackwell publication), taller men can earn more money than their shorter counterparts simply because taller people are perceived to be more intelligent and powerful. Researchers did not believe that being taller provided any genuine benefit that helped employees actually perform better.

The study entitled "Does Size Matter in Australia?" uses newly available data from the Household, Income and Labor Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey. Experts from Wiley-Blackwell then studied the data to estimate the relationship between hourly wages and two aspects of body size: height and BMI Body Mass Index).

"Our estimates suggest that if the average man of about 178 centimeters (5-foot 10-inches) gains an additional five centimeters (2-inches) in height, he would be able to earn an extra $950 per year - which is approximately equal to the wage gain from one extra year of labor market experience", explained co-author Professor Andrew Leigh.

The study also finds that, while there are wage returns to height in Australia, there are no systematic wage penalties to having a higher body mass index BMI. Professor Leigh added, "We began the project with a primary interest in whether overweight people were paid less, but eventually realized that the most interesting thing in the data is the relationship between height and wages."

Additional insights from the study revealed that taller women also tended to earn more than shorter women.

Other studies in the United States and Britain put the extra earnings at nearly that much per inch. "The truth is, tall people do make more money. They make $789 more per inch per year," says Arianne Cohen, author of "The Tall Book" (Bloomsbury USA, June, 2009).

There's nothing else physically measurable about tall people that explains the salary boost, however, Cohen explained recently on American Public Media's radio program Marketplace. "They're not nicer. They're not prettier. They're not anything else. But they've sort of gotten a halo in society at this point."

Cohen's number is based in part on a 2003 review of four large U.S. and UK studies led by Timothy Judge, a management professor at the University of Florida. Judge and his colleague concluded that someone who is 7 inches taller - for example, 6 feet versus 5 feet 5 inches - would be expected to earn $5,525 more per year. Looked at over the decades of a career, the difference adds up to literally hundreds of thousands of dollars.

So is there something special about being tall? Some researchers think that being tall may help children develop more self-confidence earlier in life. "Tall people tend to act like a leader from a very young age because other children relate to them like a slightly older peer," Cohen said on the radio program. "In the workplace, when you're automatically acting as a leader, that's really important when it comes time for promotion."

A 2003 study of 2,000 U.S. men found that their height at age 16 had a big effect on their salary as an adult, regardless of how tall they ended up being. "We found that two adults of the same age and height, who were different heights at age 16, were treated differently in the labor market. The taller teen earned more," said study team member Nicola Persico of the University of Pennsylvania.

That makes height as important as race or gender as a determinant of wages. And it works for women as well as men. The University of Pennsylvania study found that even among female identical twins (whose heights can differ more than you might expect), the taller sister earns, on average, substantially more than the shorter.

Next: What Your Body Language Says About You >>

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Rex Roy is a freelance journalist and can be reached at www.RexRoy.net.
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