Lack of height means short on pay, study finds

Analysis puts the gap at $789 per inch per year

October 18, 2003|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

GAINESVILLE, Fla. - One inch equals $789 a year, which is bad news for short people.

An analysis of data on the pay of tall and short people found that height means a heftier paycheck, reports University of Florida management professor Timothy Judge.

"Height matters in career success," Judge said. "These findings are troubling in that, with a few exceptions such as professional basketball, no one could argue that height is an essential ability required for job performance or a bona fide occupational qualification."

Studies regarding height and pay are not new.

One, from Iceland, noted that height and hair color can affect pay. It found that people with light brown hair earn more than blondes.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found that a boy's height at age 16 is a significant determinant of his salary as an adult, regardless of how tall he may eventually become.

The analysis by Judge and Daniel Cable, a business professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, put a dollar amount to the gap. It is based on four large-scale research studies, three in the United States and one in Britain.

They found that an inch is worth about $789 a year in salary. A person who is 6 feet tall will earn about $5,525 more a year than a person who is 5 feet 5 inches tall, they said.

"If you take this over the course of a 30-year career and compound it, we're talking about literally hundreds of thousands of dollars of earnings advantages that a tall person enjoys," Judge said.

The professors took into account gender, weight and age when arriving at the calculation. They found that height is a more important factor than gender in determining pay.

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