This page lists links to research papers about the socioeconomic implications of short stature. Research is listed in reverse chronological order. Where ever possible we link to the actual publication. In some cases there is a charge for the article.

Title:How Much Is Income Influenced By Height And Sex?
Author:Stephen L. Brown, PhD
Pub. Date:November 1, 2011
Abstract: A height premium in compensation has been observed in several data sets. Using data from the National Longitudinal Surveys conducted by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, a new analysis separates data for men and women and shows that age of the cohort is also important. Compensation generally increases with height for both men and women, with the height premium being greater for men. The height premium is greater for women and especially for men approaching peak earning years than it is when people are just entering the work force. For men in their late forties, the premium is about 3.5% per inch of height. The author hypothesizes that for most people, height is assumed to be a signal of leadership potential, which leads to greater representation of tall people in the more highly compensated leadership positions of an organization.

Title:Short stature is associated with coronary heart disease: a systematic review of the literature and a meta-analysis
Author:Tuula A. Paajanen, Niku K.J. Oksala, Pekka Kuukasjärvi and Pekka J. Karhunen
Organization:  Several
Pub. Date:March 23, 2010
Abstract: AIMS: The aim of this study was to assess the relationship between short stature and coronary heart disease (CHD) morbidity and mortality.
METHODS AND RESULTS: We performed a systematic search from MEDLINE, PREMEDLINE, and All EBM Reviews as well as from a reference list of relevant articles. We used SPICO (Study design, Patient, Intervention, Control-intervention, Outcome) criteria. The methodological quality of studies was analysed by modified Borghoust criteria. From a total of 1907 articles, we selected 52 studies comprising population-based follow-up studies and patient cohorts followed after a CHD event, as well as case-control studies with height either as a continuous or categorical variable, totalling 3 012 747 individuals. The short ones were below 160.5 cm and tall ones over 173.9 cm on average. Among the shortest height category, the relative risks were 1.35 (95% CI 1.25–1.44) for all-cause mortality, 1.55 (1.37–1.74) for all cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality, 1.49 (1.33–1.67) for CHD, and 1.52 (1.28–1.81) for myocardial infarction when compared with those within the highest height category. The mean relative risk was 1.46 (1.37–1.55). Short stature was associated with increased cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in both genders.
CONCLUSION: The relationship between short stature and CVD appears to be a real one. On the basis of comparison, adults within the shortest category had an ~50% higher risk of CHD morbidity and mortality than tall individuals.

Title:Short Stature in a Population-Based Cohort: Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Functioning
Author:Joyce M. Lee, MD, et. al.
Organization:  Several
Pub. Date:August 17, 2009
Abstract: OBJECTIVE: The goal was to determine whether there were significant differences between children of normative versus short stature in behavioral functioning and peer relationships, according to teacher and child reports.
METHODS: The study included 712 boys and girls in the sixth grade, from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development. Main outcome measures included Achenbach Teacher’s Report Form internalizing, externalizing, and total scores; Children’s Depression Inventory scores (child report); Life Orientation Test-Revised scores (child report); Child Behavior with Peers questionnaire asocial with peers, excluded by peers, and peer victimization subscale scores (teacher report); peer social support and victimization scores (child report); and relationships with peers score (teacher report). In bivariate comparisons, these outcomes were compared for children of relatively short (height of .10th percentile) versus nonshort (height of .10th percentile) stature, and effect sizes were calculated. Multivariate linear regression models adjusted for maternal education, income/needs ratio, race, and gender.
RESULTS: Effect sizes ranged from 0.00 to 0.35. Short children reported marginally higher levels of self-perceived peer victimization, compared with their nonshort peers. There were no significant differences in the rest of the outcomes for children of short versus nonshort stature, in either unadjusted or adjusted models.
CONCLUSION: Although short children from a population-based sample reported marginally higher levels of self-perceived peer victimization, they did not differ from their nonshort peers in a range of social, emotional, and behavioral outcomes.

Title:Height Discrimination in Employment
Author:Isaac B. Rosenberg
Organization:  William & Mary Law School
Pub. Date:February 16, 2009
Abstract: At first blush, the concept of real height discrimination is almost laughable. After all, we don't typically think of height when we discuss types of discrimination. Yet there is no denying that we place a high premium on height, be it social, sexual, or economic, and our preference for height pervades almost every aspect of our lives. Economist John Kenneth Galbraith - who towered at 6'8" - described the favored treatment we afford taller people as "one of the most blatant and forgiven prejudices in our society." If you don't believe it, consider whether you yourself would like to be taller and, if so, try putting your finger on the reason why.

This Article looks critically at heightism, i.e., prejudice or discrimination against a person on the basis of his or her height. Specifically, this Article focuses on heightism in the workplace, particularly prejudice against short people because of the unique disadvantages they face vis-a-vis their taller counterparts. Although much scholarship has focused on other forms of trait-based discrimination - most notably weight and appearance discrimination, both of which indirectly involve height as a component - little if any treatment has been given to pure height discrimination. Thus, this Article aims to fill that gap by examining the ways that existing federal antidiscrimination laws - namely Title VII and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 - do and do not protect against height-based prejudice in the workplace. Moreover, after briefly examining state and local remedies for height discrimination, including state antidiscrimination laws, this Article considers but ultimately rejects enacting a federal law that would flatly prohibit height-based employments decisions. Although a comprehensive prohibition would be easiest to administer, such a prohibition would prove both gratuitous and unwise.

Title:Should Healthy Children be Taking Growth Hormone?
Author:Chris Hamre
Pub. Date:May 2008
Abstract: In this age, when image seems to matter too much, many people will try different methods to alter their appearance. Women will try breast enlargements, balding men will resort to wearing hairpieces, the overweight will have procedures such as liposuction or gastric bypass. Now even the short-statured can add inches to their height by going through painful limb-lengthening procedures or by taking growth hormone as children. I will be talking about the latter procedure in this paper and say that, for the most part, with the exception of using human growth hormone (HGH) to treat a medical condition, the use of it in children who are otherwise healthy but short (idiopathic short stature) is cosmetic and does nothing but perpetuate a prejudice against shorter people; especially men.

Title:Stature and Status: Height, Ability, and Labor Market Outcomes
Authors:Anne Case, Christina Paxon
Organization:  National Bureau of Economic Research
Pub. Date:August 2006
Abstract: It has long been recognized that taller adults hold jobs of higher status and, on average, earn more than other workers. A large number of hypotheses have been put forward to explain the association between height and earnings. In developed countries, researchers have emphasized factors such as self esteem, social dominance, and discrimination. In this paper, we offer a simpler explanation: On average, taller people earn more because they are smarter. As early as age 3 — before schooling has had a chance to play a role — and throughout childhood, taller children perform significantly better on cognitive tests. The correlation between height in childhood and adulthood is approximately 0.7 for both men and women, so that tall children are much more likely to become tall adults. As adults, taller individuals are more likely to select into higher paying occupations that require more advanced verbal and numerical skills and greater intelligence, for which they earn handsome returns. Using four data sets from the US and the UK, we find that the height premium in adult earnings can be explained by childhood scores on cognitive tests. Furthermore, we show that taller adults select into occupations that have higher cognitive skill requirements and lower physical skill demands.

Title:Assessment Of Psychosocial Aspects Of Short Stature
Authors:David E. Sandberg, PhD, Melissa Colsman, MA
Organization:  Departments of Psychiatry & Pediatrics, School of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, University at Buffalo
Pub. Date:June 2005
Abstract: This review summarizes what is known about the psychosocial aspects of Short Stature and the Quality of Life benefits of rhGH treatment. Stereotypes and assumptions about Short Stature are evaluated in light of empirical findings. As described elsewhere, 8 studies and reviews were identified on MEDLINE® and PsychINFO® and The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews® using the terms “short,” “stature,” “height,” or “growth hormone” combined with “psychological,” “psychosocial,” or “quality of life.”

Title:Mean Body Weight, Height, and Body Mass Index, United States 1960-2002.
Authors:Cynthia L. Ogden, et. al.
Organization:  National Center for Health Statistics
Pub. Date:October 27, 2004
Abstract: This report presents trends in national estimates of mean weight, height, and body mass index (BMI) from the National Examination and the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys between 1960 and 2002. The tables included in this report present data for adults by sex, race/ethnicity, and age group and for children by sex and year of age. Mean weight and BMI have increased for both sexes, all races/ethnic groups, and all ages. Among adults, mean weight increased more than 24 pounds. Although not as dramatically, mean height has also increased for most ages and for both males and females.

Title:Why do some children of short stature develop psychologically well while others have problems?
Authors:Ann Erling
Organization:  Department of Psychology, University of Gothenburg, Sweden
Pub. Date:May 3, 2004
Abstract: The present paper addresses the question: why do some children of short stature develop psychologically well while others have problems? Based on the work of Wallander and Varni, a model is presented to illustrate risk as well as resistance factors that are important for children of short stature. It is suggested that important risk factors for the psychological adjustment of children of short stature are the child’s satisfaction with its height and the aetiology of the short stature. Another possible risk factor is the tendency for people in the child’s environment to treat the child as if he or she were younger than is actually the case. The most important risk factor, however, seems to be the psychosocial stress related to being teased or bullied due to the short stature. Important resistance factors for children of short stature might be the child’s temperament, familial support and coping strategies. It is concluded that an important aim for future research is, in a multi-disciplinary setting, to empirically test models of risk and resistance factors that are relevant for children of short stature.

Title:Is short height really a risk factor for coronary heart disease and stroke mortality? A review
Authors:Thomas T. Samaras, Harold Brick, Lowell H. Storms
Organization:  Reventropy Associates
Pub. Date:April 2004
Abstract: A number of studies have reported an inverse relationship between height and cardiovascular disease (CVD). Most of these studies have involved a relatively small number of deceased people and may have been confounded by socioeconomic and other factors. In contrast, many studies have found short populations in traditional and western societies have very low CVD compared to taller Western populations. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the impact of short height on coronary heart disease (CHD) and stroke incidence or mortality based on a variety of inter-ethnic and intra-ethnic groups involving much larger deceased populations compared to previous studies. The results of this study indicate that shorter people have substantially lower rates of CHD mortality and moderately lower levels of stroke mortality. For example, shorter southern Europeans had about half the CHD mortality rate of northern Europeans. In addition, shorter ethnic groups vs taller groups in California had substantially lower mortality rates. Native American, Japanese, Indian, and Pakistani studies also showed shorter people had lower CHD and stroke incidence or mortality compared to taller people within each group. The rate of increase in CHD mortality with increasing height was similar for shorter females vs taller males and for shorter males vs taller males.

Title:Women's height, reproductive success and the evolution of sexual dimorphism in modern humans
Authors:Daniel Nettle
Organization:  Open University of Britain
Pub. Date:August 2002
Abstract: Recent studies have shown that, in contemporary populations, tall men have greater reproductive success than shorter men. This appears to be due to their greater ability to attract mates. To our knowledge, no comparable results have yet been reported for women. This study used data from Britain's National Child Development Study to examine the life histories of a nationally representative group of women. Height was weakly but significantly related to reproductive success. The relationship was U-shaped, with deficits at the extremes of height. This pattern was largely due to poor health among extremely tall and extremely short women. However, the maximum reproductive success was found below the mean height for women. Thus, selection appears to be sexually disruptive in this population, favouring tall men and short women. Over evolutionary time, such a situation tends to maintain sexual dimorphism. Men do not use stature as a positive mate-choice criterion as women do. It is argued that there is good evolutionary reason for this, because men are orientated towards cues of fertility, and female height, being positively related to age of sexual maturity, is not such a cue.

Title:Height and the High Life - What Future for a Tall Story
Authors:Timothy Leunig & Hans-Joachim Voth
Organization:  Department of Economic History, London SChool of Economics & Universitat Pompeu Fabra
Pub. Date:2004
Abstract: Ever better information on health and living standards will remove height from history's centre stage. This will be compounded by declining variations in adult height both within countries and across nations, as populations approach their genetic potential. We suggest two cases where stature will retain its role because other data are poor or unavailable. Children's heights can capture the effects of changing public policy and social conditions on families even in western countries. As with many current historical studies, the absence of other data may also make adult heights a useful tool in understanding the transition from communism to capitalism.

Title:The Effect of Adolescent Experience on Labor Market Outcomes: The Case of Height
Authors:Nicola Persico, Andrew Postlewaite and Dan Silverman
Organization:  University of Pennsylvania
Pub. Date:8 October 2001
Abstract: 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 way in which height affects wages. Specifically, we show that for white males, the effect of adult height is essentially eliminated when adolescent height is taken into account. We take this as evidence that adolescent height has important economic implications long after the time that it is observable to others, and we explore the channels through which the effects might be manifested.

Title:Beauty, Stature And The Labour Market: A British Cohort Study
Authors:Barry Harper
Organization:  London Guildhall University
Pub. Date:8 June 1999
Abstract: The influence of physical appearance in the labour market is examined using longitudinal cohort data covering 11,407 individuals born in Britain in 1958. Results show that physical appearance has a substantial effect on earnings and employment patterns for both men and women. Irrespective of gender, those who are assessed as unattractive or short, experience a significant earnings penalty. Tall men receive a pay premium while obese women experience a pay penalty. The bulk of the pay differential for appearance arises from employer discrimination, although we find evidence for productivity differences among occupations. The impact of physical appearance is also evident in the marriage market. Among women, those who are tall of obese are less likely to be married; while among men, lower marriage rates are found fore those who are short or unattractive.

Title:Don't Want No Short, Short Man: The Study Of Height, Power, and Mate Selection
Authors:Melanie Rubenstein, Maureen Wissman, Chris Meyers
Organization:  Miami University
Pub. Date:4 May 1998
Abstract: This study tested for a link between human height, power, and mate choice. The hypothesis was that in this society, dominance is regarded as a trait which taller people possess. Therefore, in heterosexual relationships, people choose mates who fit this societal mode of power structures: the woman is shorter and the man is taller. An alternative hypothesis was that men are taller than women in heterosexual relationships because men are generally taller due to the sexual dimorphism which exists in humans. Empirical research on this theory was performed in the form of a nine question survey which was distributed to twenty six college-age students. The data from the surveys was analyzed using the computer program Statview 4.5. The main hypothesis, that height is a factor when choosing a potential mate, was proven; but the reasoning behind it was not. The data does not show that power and height are correlated. The data could support the alternative hypothesis but more research and testing would need to be done to see whether or not sexual dimorphism is the reason affecting height differences in heterosexual relationships.