Monday, June 29, 2009

Taller People Live Better Lives?

This is according to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index daily poll of the United States population, as reported on the NYT Economix Blog. Taller people evaluate their lives more favourably, and they are more likely to report a range of positive emotions. They are more likely to experience stress and anger, and if they are women, to worry.


Kevin Denny said...

Yeah & we're nicer too. Understanding these height effects is the real challenge. It may partly pick up early life conditions, a la Barker, but there may be psychological effects, discrimination etc.

Martin Ryan said...

Kevin, I just realised that the NBER paper (by Deaton and Arora) linked to on the Economix Blog is the same Princeton paper (or something similar) that you posted about recently.

Alan also mentioned testosterone. If men are, on average, taller (and I don't know if this is the case), then testosterone could be driving the propensity for more anger?

Kevin Denny said...

That's an interesting possibility. Men are definitely taller than women on average. Whether there is convergence is an interesting question.
I wonder then is the 2:4 digit ratio correlated with height?

Liam Delaney said...

One for debate is the extent of the borderlines of this research between interesting and gimmickly. The use of height as a marker of early nutrition has enormous consequence for social science and health research partly because it is mostly not endogenous to later changes. Thus, to the extent that you believe height is a good health marker, it is not likely that it reacts to current income, social conditions etc.,

There is a sense though that any literature that begins to accept that just demonstrating an association between an anthropometric measure and something else is setting itself up for serious problems of publication bias and spurious correlations. Kevin has written some critiques of false associations in related literatures. It would be worth keeping this in mind here. Though the Deaton work is high quality and well motivated, are we about to witness a deluge of tall people are x papers?