Height as a Proxy for Cognitive and Non-Cognitive Ability

35 Pages Posted: 6 Dec 2010 Last revised: 13 Dec 2010

See all articles by Andreas Schick

Andreas Schick

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Richard H. Steckel

Ohio State University (OSU) - Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: December 2010

Abstract

Taller workers receive a substantial wage premium. Studies extending back to the middle of the last century attribute the premium to non-cognitive abilities, which are associated with stature and rewarded in the labor market. More recent research argues that cognitive abilities explain the stature-wage relationship. This paper reconciles the competing views by recognizing that net nutrition, a major determinant of adult height, is integral to our cognitive and non-cognitive development. Using data from Britain's National Childhood Development Study (NCDS), we show that taller children have higher average cognitive and non-cognitive test scores, and that each aptitude accounts for a substantial and roughly equal portion of the stature premium. Together these abilities explain why taller people have higher wages.

Suggested Citation

Schick, Andreas and Steckel, Richard H., Height as a Proxy for Cognitive and Non-Cognitive Ability (December 2010). NBER Working Paper No. w16570, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1719930

Andreas Schick (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN

No Address Available

Richard H. Steckel

Ohio State University (OSU) - Economics ( email )

1945 North High Street
Columbus, OH 43210-1172
United States
614-292-5008 (Phone)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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