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The nonlinear link between height and wages in Germany, 1985-2004

By Olaf Hübler


Based on data of the German Socio-Economic Panel, this article investigates the relationship between height and wages by gender. Unlike previous investigations, which have been limited to an examination of linear effects, this one finds that height influences on wages are curvilinear, and more so for men than for women. More specifically, it finds that women who are shorter than average and men who are somewhat taller than average, but not among the tallest, enjoy significant wage advantages. Furthermore, using Blinder's decomposition to determine two components of wage differences, we find that these differences can be partitioned into an endowment component and unexplained influences (discrimination). There is a difference between the public and private sectors and between men and women as to the degree of the latter effect. This investigation supports the hypothesis that short and very tall men employed in the private sector are disadvantaged the most. The outcome for women is less robust than for men.Height Wages Men Women Nonlinearity Discrimination Private and public sector Germany

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