Wednesday, May 20, 2009

From the Archive -- Why Height Matters

Height (which is frequently not captured in beauty variables) also produces returns in the labor market. An extra inch of height is estimated to be worth approximately $1000 a year in wages. While that's great (at least if you are me), one can't really invest in their height so who cares?

Well, it turns out one's current height doesn't appear to generate these returns. Economists Nicola Persico, Andy Postlewaite, and Dan Silverman show that it is not height today that generates higher incomes, but rather height at age 16. Boys who were tall at 16 earn more money, but boys who were short at 16 but tall at 33 don't. This suggests that height itself does not matter. Rather, adolescent experiences differ for those who are tall and these different experiences generate self-esteem, confidence, or some set of skills that are valuable in the labor market.

Steven Landsburg provides a one page summary of the paper here.

I found this really interesting. I thought it would be actually more important even earlier in life, like in the late elementary school years or middle school years. I think this is where most people would get their “natural” confidence. I definitely hope this is the case for me, as I was 5’8’’ by sixth grade and only 5’9’’ by the time I was sixteen. The economists argue, however, that taller people tend to participate more in extracurricular activities, which tend to build self-esteem. This makes perfect sense, and also goes right along with the book Outliers (especially the section about birthdays of hockey players). I guess it would eventually pay off to make your children drink lots of milk and take vitamins daily.
While the concept is very interesting on its own, I found the part about identical twins particularly interesting. The fact that the taller identical twin makes more money on average really drills home the point of the importance of one's height at 16 helping to dictate future wages.
I'd like to see research similar to this height related research but focused on beauty instead of age. I'd gladly posit that the age at which your attractiveness peaks is particularly relevant to success. For example, the adolescent female that is in the highest percentile at 16 is the most likely to receive proposals by their peers, increasing their odds of an accidental pregnancy and decreases their chances of attaining financial success. The alternative example would be that of the teenage male whose adolescent years are spent in the lower quartile of attractiveness and thus attain a set of skills they would not have otherwise (time spent on a computer at home instead of out on dates with girls, we can easily imagine a scenario in which outlier-bill-gates spends his teen years chasing tail and thus never develops his l337 computer skillz). Furthermore, an individual whose attractiveness percentile performance is initially low, although they may not attain the confidence their more attractive peers may have, they also learn not to depend on their looks, and then as they achieve success over time, their attractiveness increases accordingly due to increased knowledge of the skills relevant to improving one's appearance.

I guess I'd like to see a similar study of 100 individuals rated on success and attractiveness every year from adolescence to adulthood to see how the two are correlated.
Even though I have never really thought about a persons height affecting the amount of money they would make, it makes sense as to why a taller person at age 16 would in the end make more money than a shorter person of the same age. Being a taller person at 16 definetly allows for more self confidence, since our society is stuck on the fact that taller is better and more desirable. By instilling this confidence at a younger age, people are more likely to take on harder jobs or obstacles that would either pay better or put them in a position to earn more money in the long run.
being tall at the age of 16 equals greater confidence relative to being short at the age of 16. Higher confidence can = better people skills, more out going, easily accepted by others and etc. so they get more practice to communicate and socialize. and those who work with others have a better chance to succeed (make more money?). "why height matters" was very interesting to read. good stuff.
This article links directly into "Outliers," because it is at that age when they set up their future. Being tall at age 16 means you are in high school and if you play sports you have the ability to be a dominate athlete. Much like in "Outliers" the bigger more mature players always seem to rise to the top. These "stars" are cast into a light their whole lives and thus are able to stand out amongst their peers. This could mean college is paid for or tuition is reduced. Athletics is a sign for leadership for employers which makes you more employable. On the other hand, if you are short at an earlier age and taller at an older age, you have lost the ability to stand out. Now you are just one of many.
This article is very interesting to me since when I was younger I was not very tall and I had not grown out of my baby fat. I had different experiences then most other people because I was not always tall and wasn't always skinny. I feel like growing up I had to earn things more which gave me drive to work harder. While I had friends in High school who were good looking and it seemed everything was given to them. Now they are the ones who are not in college and are working construction for a small salary. Yes some of the life experiences you have when you are younger will affect the way you turn out but I feel like this may be misleading. I experienced both sides and I feel like growing into ones self can develop confidence more so then just being tall.
I think height does matter, and it will have some affect on the amount of people can make. Some of the jobs such as flight attendance and model, you have to reach certain height in order to apply. Also, if you are a tall kid when you are 16yrs, you will have more self confidence. As you are tall, you will look mature and people will look at you first since you are taller than the other kids that will make you stand out. However, I am the shortest one out of my group of friends and family. I always think high heel can make up my height. I think how you think of yourself is very important, because height can’t give you everything. So that, self confidence can build by others factors instead of height.
I don't know about how much I agree with the article. If anybody has ever heard of short man syndrome or ran across anybody that has it you would agree that that some of the most confident people are shorter men. Especially when it comes to sports they smaller guys always feel like they have something to prove and walk with a swagger. It was interesting though to look at identical twins and the wage difference between the two. It could also be beauty that is attracting the wages and not height. Maybe ugly tall people make less than good looking smaller people.
This article is interesting and makes sense to me. A person who tall has much self confidence than a person who is short. It leads to his personal skills. In the case of athletes, most of them are taller than ordinary people and they earn much money. I just remember the time that I gave up playing baseball because of my physical strength. If I had more self confidence, I would still play baseball. Ummm, self-esteem is important for human to succeed.
I never really thought that height would impact the amount you would make in the long run. It makes a lot of sense, seeing that during your teen years you are constantly worried about the way you look. Being tall for a boy must help develop a positive self esteem. I remember when I was in elementary I was way taller than all the boys and girls all up until my freshman year, that's when all the boys caught up. I'm only 5'5" now. But, I remember playing basketball at recess and I especially loved blocking shots against the boys, they always wanted me on their team. I was also constantly told that I should play basketball by the adults, (PE teachers) which I believe helped build my self confidence that I have today.
I think this is because when you are taller at that age, there is a better chance you will end up in different leadership roles. I would think it would have a lot to do with athletics. Those who are taller in their youth are more likely to be playing sports, and this gives them the opportunity to be in a leadership role, as well as to perform under pressure and in front of others. This seems to be a logic explanation for height in youth mattering, but I am sure there are other explanations as well.
I think this article makes sense, 16 is an important age, a lot of males will start to look forward to their futures, perhaps look for jobs as well as other experiences to better boost their resumes for college or potential jobs. Of these boys, the ones who are tall will probably stand out more and make more contacts and relationships with important people who are successful which can help pave the way for their future.
It's looking like I'll be more average in terms of income. I wasn't super tal at 16, nor was I short. I guess the news could be worse for me.
Very interesting article to help me understand, to some degree why height matters. Being the taller person in the crowd of teenagers, you are viewed as more responsible. At this point in their young lives children look up to and respond to their parents, whom are taller than they. The tall kid then responds, so I feel it's a cause and effect but rather that the tall kids respond to those looking up to him, which in turn leads to leadership qualities internalized.
I don't agree with the theory that height matters in how much one generates in income. Yes, there are many careers that require a person with taller height. However, there are many individuals that are successful at a short height.
I love articles that stir up controvery, especially when I'm the beneficiary. I was short until sixth grade. In fact I was really short. By 9th grade I was 6'2" and made the basketball team. Height was definately a factor. Furthermore it was no secret that 1. I wasn't very good and 2. my dad is 6'6" so I was an attractive prospect. I continued to grow and my confidence sored. Was is soley because of height? Of course not... But did that height assist in my success on the court? Absolutely. And with that success came great confidence, pride, and a fealing of accomplishment. After years of competition I've gained respect, a sense of self worth, and refined my ability to communicate effectively, especially under pressure. The relationship between height and income may lack a strong correlation but I strongly agree that height at an early age helps build self confidence which in turn, may lead to future gains.
This article really brings an interesting aspect in that it matters what age you were tall that determines success. I guess it makes sense: At 16 is when we really develop a concept of our place in the social ladder and at that age it's all about popularity and looks. As we get older and become more aware of people and ourselves is when being tall becomes insignificant as far as how you place on the social ladder. What this study really showed me was that people don't really change how they were from their adolescence which is surprising. I thought for a lot of people confidence is something one gains from experience and knowledge but I guess for a lot of people how they were in high school determines a lot. From a dating standpoint, obviously height is more influential in success as women tend to like guys who are taller and guys tend to be more comfortable with girls who are shorter.
I think a lot of the idea of height helping increase your earning potential is very similar to the idea that beauty helps increase earning potential. People that have obvious advantages such as height or looks at a young age stand out more and are often given more opportunities to succeed in social settings which will generate a more confident person, and if someone thinks they are capable of more it often turns into a self-fulfilling prophecy because they will take actions that lead to them being more successful.
This topic was actually addressed in the book More Sex is Safer Sex by Steven Landsburg that i read for our book report. Being a tall person, i was intrigued by this idea. I do agree with the idea of your height at 16 being the more important factor. I talked to a family friend who is also the CEO of a local bank that i worked at about tips for interviews and work life after college. He told me that when they are looking to hire new employees, the main thing they look at during the interview is personality. Expecially when it comes to customer service jobs, it is very important for employees to be confident in themselves and be able to hold a conversation with the customers. I feel like this is also true in the dating world. If you are confident in yourself and just be yourself, more people are going to be attracted to you when they talk to you. This all has to do with self esteem, which for the most part is gained when you are in middle school and high school. I feel like overall there is a correlation between being taller and how you feel about yourself, but i dont think that just being tall is the only factor.
Although the numbers are against me, I do not agree with this article. Before I give you my reasons it is important to know that I only 5'9'' and have been so since I was 16. While the age of 16 marks the peak of puberty, I do not believe there is any correlation between height up to 16 and confidence. I believe confidence is something someone is born with and childhood life experiences do not deter onces overall confidence. If one experiences more failure in a certain sport, I believe their confidence in that sport will decline, not their overall confidence.
My basic reasoning is; the little man's syndrome. I know plenty of short people that are blatantly confident. Although, little man's syndrome could also be viewed as self-conscienceness, thus, low confidence...the debate continues.
The age of 16 is a benchmark of any boys life, its at this point where a lot of his character is going to come from. A person who is taller than most of his peers is going to have more confidence, be used to being looked up to (figuratively and literally)and will have the confidence that could ultimately lead to a better paying job. however i was never a tall kid by any stretch of the imagination, it caused me work toward something that came naturally to others. I had to work at building up my confidence while someone taller than me when we were 16 could focus on other things.
This is an interesting topic. But I belive height is something you can't change and is consider as part of beautiness. We all know that people always hire who are prettier. And as for the height, I believe people will hire taller people because taller person seems to be more active than shoter people. But it comes to an question to me: what if a short but handsome person and a tall but not so handsome person went to interview for a job, who would be hire? The result can only base on the employers' taste and style.
It would be interesting to see the discrepancies for income coefficients with height, race, and gender.
the article makes sense and goes along with the stories told in Outliers. Those bigger at the age of 16 when many young men are figuring out what kind of person they are are likely to benefit from their increasing height at 16 opening doors they previously may have avoided whether it be girls, sports, or harder classes. Also Bryce if you have ever been into a Korean market a taken a peek a the medicine sections about 30% of the crap there is supposed to make you grow taller...while you can invest in it, don't expect big returns.
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