Recent Trends in Height by Gender and Ethnicity in the Us in Relation to Levels of Income

27 Pages Posted: 15 Jan 2009 Last revised: 29 Jun 2010

See all articles by John Komlos

John Komlos

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU) - Faculty of Economics; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Date Written: January 2009

Abstract

Height trends since World War II are analyzed using the most recent NHANES survey released in 2006. After declining for about a generation, the height of adult white men and women began to increase among the birth cohorts of c. 1975-1986, i.e., those who reached adulthood within the past decade (1995-2006). The increase in their height overcame the prior downturn that lasted between ca. 1965 and 1974. The height gap between white and black men has increased by only 0.43 cm (0.17 in.) during past decade compared to the previous quarter century to reach 1.0 cm (0.39 in.). However, the height of black women has been actually declining absolutely by 1.42 cm (0.56 in.) and relative to that of white women. Black women of the most recent birth cohort are (at 162.3 cm, 63.9 in.) shorter than almost all Western-European women including Spain and Italy. As a consequence, a very considerable wedge has developed between black and white women's height of 1.95 cm (0.77 in.). The decline in their height is most likely related to the obesity epidemic caused by inadequate dietary balance. Black women in the age range 20-39 weigh some 9.5 kg (21.0 lb) more than their white counterparts. It appears that black females are experiencing a double jeopardy in the sense that both their increasing weight and the diminution of their physical stature are both substantial and are both probably associated with negative health consequences.

Suggested Citation

Komlos, John, Recent Trends in Height by Gender and Ethnicity in the Us in Relation to Levels of Income (January 2009). NBER Working Paper No. w14635. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1327256

John Komlos (Contact Author)

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU) - Faculty of Economics ( email )

Ludwigstrasse 28
Munich, D-80539
Germany

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

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