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Market Outcomes: The Case of Height ∗

By Nicola Persico and Andrew PostlewaiteDan Silverman, Nicola Persico and Andrew Postlewaite


Taller workers receive a wage premium, and the disparity in wages is similar in magnitude to the race and gender gaps. We exploit the variation in an individual’s height over time to explore the ways in which height affects wages. Specifically, we show that for white males the effectofadultheightisessentially eliminated when adolescent height is taken into account. We find that participation in high school sports and clubs, and to a lesser extent schooling, are channels through which teen height affects adult wages. The benefits of being a taller teen seem to accrue equally across income classes and also across broad occupation categories, suggesting that the benefits of teen height do not result from occupational sorting. Because height is heritable and because tall adults tend to have children with each other, the benefits of teen height tend to be perpetuated across generations. Finally, we use our estimates of the teen height premium to perform a simple calculation of the monetary benefits of a newly approved treatment for children that increases height. This work was supported by National Science Foundation grants SES 0095768 and SES-0078870, which are gratefully acknowledged. We thank Jere Behrman, Julie Cullen, Dan Hamermesh, Chris Peterson, Mark Rosenzweig, and particularly Ken Wolpin for helpful conversations. We are grateful to the editor, Steve Levitt, and to an anonymous referee for comments and suggestions that greatly improved the paper

Year: 2003
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