Why shorter, heavier people make less money

Study Shows Short Men and Obese Women Make Less Money
Study Shows Short Men and Obese Women Make Less Money

Does the way you look actually make a difference in how successful you become?

A study by the UK Biobank seems to have found the answer, and it's somewhat disheartening. But fear not, there's much more science behind it than you may think.

SEE ALSO: The gender pay gap is bad in some states and worse in others

There seems to be a correlation between height, weight, gender and earnings. In short, the study found evidence pointing to the fact that shorter, heavier people have a lower socioeconomic status than those who are taller and of a average weight.

Money.com summarized the following results:

  • As little as an extra 2-and-a-half inches of height raised men's annual incomes by nearly $4,200.

  • Overweight men (measured by comparatively higher BMIs) also saw a drop in income, but the effect of higher BMIs dragging down incomes was far more pronounced for women than for men.

  • Women who weigh as little as 15 pounds more than their peers saw an average annual income drop of $1,600, and were less likely to own cars or homes, or be employed.

Of course these results beg answers from many questions. How much of this is causation versus pure correlation? If these variables are directly related, then what's the logic behind it?

To begin, the researchers acknowledged at the end of their study that "Further work is needed to understand the factors that lead to and from anthropometric traits and socioeconomic status."

Translation: there isn't enough evidence to address either question with a succinct and accurate answer.

But based on what we do know, we can make some assumptions. We know that lower socioeconomic status leads to poorer health, due to inability to access top-notch healthcare, medicine, outlets for exercise, healthy nutrition choices, etc.

We also know that factors such as socioeconomic status are somewhat cyclical, in that they pass on through generations.

If your parents were lower-middle class growing up and didn't receive a high-level education, you're less likely to receive one compared to others whose parents did have a high-level education.

Apart from this, the prioritization of health and practicing healthy habits are also things that tend to be passed down generationally. Again, if your parents didn't put an emphasis on nutrition and exercise as a priority, you're less likely to prioritize nutrition and exercise than someone whose parents did put an emphasis on them.

By applying this to the study, we can draw the somewhat feasible conclusion that shorter and heavier people have a lower socioeconomic status due to the status (and its implications) of the generations before them. The same goes for taller and thinner people.

Of course there are several other factors at play and to be considered, and this is just a rough guess as to what potential future research might unveil.

One thing, however, is for certain: whether you're tall, short, overweight or underweight, it can never determine the amount of drive you have to succeed.

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