Tall Story

Michael Kortt and I have a new paper out, looking at the relationship between body size and wages. Here’s the abstract (click on the title for the full paper):

Does Size Matter in Australia?
Michael Kortt & Leigh
We estimate the relationship between hourly wages and two aspects of body size: height and body mass index (BMI). We observe a height premium, with an additional 10 centimetres of height being associated with a 3 per cent increase in hourly wages for men. However, workers with higher BMI scores do not seem to earn lower wages. These results are largely unaffected by controlling for physical health, or (in the case of BMI) instrumenting with the BMI of biological family members. A survey of previous instrumental variables studies shows little indication of systematic biases, suggesting that OLS may provide a reasonable estimate of the causal impact of BMI on wages.

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 (at mean earnings, 10cm of height is associated with a $1900 annual wage rise for blokes).

The study is now forthcoming in the Economic Record. This was one of those experiences where the refereeing process led to a much better paper, as we to-ed and fro-ed with the referees and editor Paul Miller over the right specification.

3 thoughts on “Tall Story”

  1. The only problem is with reading too much into this.

    If attractiveness increases salary and height increases salary, then someone who is very tall – but on an average salary – has a direct and absolute measure of their own attractiveness.

    On the other hand, a very short person, on a good salary, would have objective proof that they are a sex-machine-god.

    🙂 implied.


  2. The good news is that butt-ugly short-arses can stay on the dole and no one will care, while the naturally endowed get on with the pompous job of doing all the make-work. Everyone will get what they genetically and developmentally deserve.


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