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Does Size Matter? Study shows Taller People Earn More Money

10 July 2009 Wiley

Taller men are able to earn more money than their shorter counterparts simply because taller people are perceived to be more intelligent and powerful, this according to a study published in The Economic Record by Wiley-Blackwell.

The study entitled "Does Size Matter in Australia?" uses newly available data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey to estimate the relationship between hourly wages and two aspects of body size: height and BMI.

It finds that taller people, particularly men, earn more money - with every five centimetres of height being worth about $950 per annum.

"Our estimates suggest that if the average man of about 178 centimetres gains an additional five centimetres 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 labour 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 realised that the most interesting thing in the data is the relationship between height and wages."

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