Monday, March 1, 2010

Tall people get paid more despite sedentary work

I have reported previously that tall people have an edge on the labor market, and about some speculation why this would be the case. One theory is that they are better at performing some tasks because they are tall, or at least appear to because height is associated with strength and health.

Petri Böckerman, Edvard Johansson, Urpo Kiiskinen and Markku Heliövaara use a Finnish survey and find that smaller people are doing more strenuous work, while taller people typically have jobs where they sit. The height premium does vary with the strenuousness of the job, after controlling for all sorts of indicators that typically determine wages. Would this mean that the wage premium does not come from actual strength used, but rather from intimidation? That would surprise me from Finns, who seem to be leaders in equal opportunity. Is it that they are healthier, as my original post seemed to indicated. May be, but this data had no other indicators of health.

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