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How Much of an Advantage Do Tall Men Have? Are Tall Men Really Better Off?

Richlee Shoe Company in Frederick, Maryland boasts that their "Elevator Shoes" have been "making men 2" to 3" taller since 1939." They come with a hidden height-increasing inner mold that evens up the score, in a sense, for shorter men who "want the business and social advantages that being taller has been shown to provide," they say.

Is it true that tall men have better jobs, more success with women, and more money than their shorter counterparts?

On average, a person earns $789 more per inch they are taller.

Says Malcom Gladwell in his book "Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking," now a New York Times bestseller, "There's plenty of evidence to suggest that height -- particularly in men -- does trigger a certain set of very positive, unconscious associations."

And it's even been given a name.

"Heightism" and Men

"No one ever considered heightism. It's the most basic prejudice in man, but it's the least talked about," says 5-foot-four-inch Joe Mangano, a salesman for a trademark research company in New York City.

"As a matter of fact, there may be more heightism today than before because people can no longer discriminate against other groups: blacks, women, Jews," he said.

In real-world terms, heightism can translate into fewer dollars, relationships and children for shorter men.

Tall Men and Money

For "Blink," Gladwell polled about half of the Fortune 500 companies and found that the majority of their CEOs were tall, white men, and:

  • The average CEO was just under 6 feet (the average American man is 5'9")

  • Among the CEOs, 58 percent were 6 feet or over

  • In the United States, 14.5 percent of men are 6 feet or over

  • Some 30 percent of the CEOs were 6'2" or taller

  • Only 3.9 percent of U.S. men are 6'2" or taller

"Height matters for career success," said Timothy Judge, a University of Florida management professor who co-conducted a study on the topic.

How Tall are Some Famous Male Celebrities?

  • Danny Devito 5'0"
  • Immanuel Kant 5'0"
  • Michael J. Fox 5'4"
  • Al Pacino 5'5"
  • Jason Alexander 5'5"
  • Bob Dylan 5'6"
  • Tom Cruise 5'7"
  • Sylvester Stallone 5'7"
  • Robert Downey Jr. 5'7"
  • Ben Stiller 5'8"
  • Mel Gibson 5'9"
  • Henry Kissinger 5'9"
  • Keanu Reeves 6'1"
  • Laurence Fishburne 6'1"
  • Pierce Brosnan 6'2"
  • Will Smith 6'2"
  • Jim Carrey 6'2"
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger 6'2"
  • Danny Glover 6'3"
  • Chuck Heston 6'3"
  • Gregory Peck 6'3"
  • Tom Selleck 6'4"
  • Clint Eastwood 6'4"
  • Jeff Goldblum 6'4"
  • Tim Robbins 6'4"
  • Steve Segal 6'4"
  • Liam Neeson 6'4"
  • John Wayne 6'5"
  • Michael Clarke Duncan 6'5"
  • Dolph Lundgren 6'6"

After analyzing the results of four large-scale studies, Judge and co-author Daniel Cable, a business professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel-Hill, found that extra inches could add up to thousands of dollars.

For each inch in height, a person earned about $789 more in pay. So a 6-foot person would earn $5,525 more each year than someone who is 5'5."

"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 advantage that a tall person enjoys," Judge said.

The Dating Scene

The preference for taller men extends, it seems, beyond the boardroom and into the bedroom.

Steve Penner, the previous owner of a Boston-based dating service, says he heard it all the time. "It is common for many women to insist that any man they date must be "at least" four to six inches taller," he says.

And the reason may be genetic.

Tall men are more likely to get married and have children than short men.

Experts like James Gould from Princeton University believe that women's preference for tall men is hard-wired into the brain, and it's there because it relates to good health.

"When height is an indicator of health, this is not surprising, and if females are programmed to look for health, they would end up with taller males," Gould says. "It's entirely plausible this is true."

And a study published in the journal Nature seems to back up this theory. Robin I. M. Dunbar of the University of Liverpool and colleagues studied 3,200 men in their 20s to 50s, whose average height was 5'6." They found:

  • Taller men are more likely to be married and have children than shorter men

  • Childless bachelors are significantly shorter than married men

  • Those with children were, on average, 1.2 inches taller than childless men

  • Married men were an average of 1 inch taller than bachelors

Are Tall Men Happier?

Despite what the numbers say, being tall does not automatically mean a man will lead a happy, successful life--or that a shorter man won't.

As Gary Brooks, professor of psychology and family therapy at Baylor University, puts it, "Within manhood, men compare themselves to each other and most men feel relatively powerless and short in one dimension or the other."

Recommended Reading

The Top Six Signs that Someone is Physically Attracted to You

Why are More Boys than Girls Being Born?


Workplace Rewards Tall People With Money

The Daily Record

Sea Coast Online

Nature. 2000 Jan 13;403(6766):156.

It's True: Women Prefer the Tall Guys

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