Life at the top

Life at the Top: The Benefits of Height

Angus Deaton
Princeton University ; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Raksha Arora
affiliation not provided to SSRN

June 2009

NBER Working Paper No. w15090

Abstract:
According to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index daily poll of the US population, taller people live better lives, at least on average. They evaluate their lives more favorably, and they are more likely to report a range of positive emotions such as enjoyment and happiness. They are also less likely to report a range of negative experiences, like sadness, and physical pain, though they are more likely to experience stress and anger, and if they are women, to worry. These findings cannot be attributed to different demographic or ethnic characteristics of taller people, but are almost entirely explained by the positive association between height and both income and education, both of which are positively linked to better lives.

If you want a better life, be tall.

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2 comments
dearieme says February 5, 2013

I’ve seen it claimed that Tony Blair wears “lifts” in his shoes.

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Bruce Charlton says February 5, 2013

Height correlates positively with health, because bad health (in childhood) may produce stunting and a failure to reach ‘genetic’ height.

Therefore smaller people are on average less healthy because it is their history of poorer health which has made (some of) them small.

Height should only be used as an explanation for happiness, painfreeness etc when other known and more plausible explanations (and there are more I haven’t mentioned) have been eliminated as possibilities.

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