How does height affect your health and income?


Height has been associated with better physical health when outcomes such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity are considered, yet stature is rarely used in predicting comorbidities or as a proxy for physical health when analyzing outcomes such as income. Since height is a more exogenous measure than variables likely to be affected by lifestyle changes, such as obesity, observing labor market outcomes based on height may be revealing. In addition, gender and racial differences must be taken into account when analyzing the effects of height on physical health and labor market outcomes. This study utilizes the 1984–2005 samples of the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System in estimating trends in height over time by gender and race, and in analyzing the relationship between height and physical health and labor market outcomes in the United States. Trends show that height has not changed substantially at a time when physical health, as indicated by the incidence of obesity, Type II diabetes, and cholesterol, has deteriorated, and earnings disparities across racial gaps persist. Results at mean values for males indicate that being 10 cm taller is associated with a 14–47% increase in obesity, an 8–13% reduction in cholesterol prevalence, and a $1874–2306 income premium. For females, results indicate that being 10 cm taller is associated with an 8–18% reduction in cholesterol, a 14% reduction in diabetes for white females, and an $891–2243 earnings premium.

Source: “Height, health, and income in the US, 1984–2005” from Economics & Human Biology, Volume 6, Issue 1, March 2008, Pages 108-126

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