Are the Effects of Height on Well-Being a Tall Tale?
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Numerous papers have documented a positive association between height and good physical health and also with good economic outcomes such as earnings. A smaller number have argued for an association with well-being. In this paper, the SHARE survey of over 50 year olds in Europe is used to analyse whether individuals’ height is associated with higher or lower levels of life-satisfaction using ordered probit estimation. In simple models there is a positive, concave relationship between height and life satisfaction. However it is shown that the results are quite sensitive to the inclusion of controls reflecting demographics and, in particular, human capital and health status. Where effects do exist, it is predominantly at low to medium levels of height. That is there is a penalty, in well-being terms, to being short but not necessarily a benefit to being tall. There is also evidence of heterogeneity across countries with the effects being best determined in France.
KeywordsHeight Stature Well-being Life satisfaction Health
I thank the reviewers for their comments. The countries in SHARE for the wave used here are Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. This paper uses data from wave 1 release 2.3.0. All estimation was done using Stata: the code is available on request from the author. SHARE data collection in 2004–2007 was primarily funded by the European Commission through its 5th and 6th framework programmes (Project Numbers QLK6-CT-2001-00360; RII-CT-2006-062193; CIT5-CT-2005-028857). Additional funding by the US National Institute on Aging (Grant Numbers U01 AG09740-13S2; P01 AG005842; P01 AG08291; P30 AG12815; Y1-AG-4553-01; OGHA 04-064; R21 AG025169) as well as by various national sources is gratefully acknowledged (see http://www.share-project.org for a full list of funding institutions).
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