NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Height, Skills, and Labor Market Outcomes in Mexico

Tom Vogl

NBER Working Paper No. 18318
Issued in August 2012
NBER Program(s):   CH   HE   LS

Taller workers are paid higher wages. A prominent explanation for this pattern is that physical growth and cognitive development share childhood inputs, inducing a correlation between adult height and two productive skills: strength and intelligence. This paper explores the relative roles of strength and intelligence in explaining the labor market height premium in Mexico. While cognitive test scores account for a limited share of the height premium, roughly half of the premium can be attributed to the educational and occupational choices of taller workers. Taller workers obtain more education and sort into occupations with greater intelligence requirements and lower strength requirements, suggesting that the height premium partly reflects a return to cognitive skill.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w18318

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