Tall People Earn $789 More Per Inch

BY Cristen Conger / POSTED August 8, 2011
Hammerbrook - City can this really be true?
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Want to know whether your coworkers earn more than you? Easy: just stand next to them and see who’s taller.

Research has been rolling out for years supporting the theory that tall folks make more money than their vertical underlings. And while researching men and height for an upcoming podcast, I stumbled across this bombshell of a statistic cited in Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink: “corrected for variables like age and gender and weight, an inch of height is worth $789 a year in salary.” In other words, the salary disparity between you and your coworker is roughly equivalent to your height difference in inches multiplied by $789.

LiveScience highlights a couple other studies that have also found a height pay gap:

  • A 2003 study found that between two adult men of the same age and height, the one who was taller as a teenager earned more.
  • An 2009 Australian study calculated a $1,000 pay difference between men who hit the 6-foot mark and those 2 inches shorter.

The average American man is 5’9″, and the average woman reaches 5’4″; why does a couple extra inches correlate to higher wages? A 2011 paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research offers this explanation:

Using data from Britain’s National Childhood Development Study (NCDS), we show that taller children have higher average cognitive and non-cognitive test scores, and that each aptitude accounts for a substantial and roughly equal portion of the stature premium. Together these abilities explain why taller people have higher wages.

As a 5’9″ woman, maybe I oughta ask for a raise.

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