The influence of physical appearance in the labour market is examined using longitudinal cohort data covering 11,407 individuals born in Britain in 1958. Results show that physical appearance has a substantial effect on earnings and employment patterns for both men and women. Irrespective of gender, those who are assessed as unattractive or short, experience a significant earnings penalty. Tall men receive a pay premium while obese women experience a pay penalty. The bulk of the pay differential for appearance arises from employer discrimination. The impact of physical appearance is also evident in the marriage market. Among women, those who are tall or obese are less likely to be married; while among men, lower marriage rates are found for those who are short or unattractive. (From Beauty, Stature And The Labour Market: A British Cohort Study. London Guildhall University June 8, 1999)

Hourly wage (in pounds)


very tall women: 6.153
attractive women: 5.749
unattractive women: 5.085
very short women: 4.888
overweight women: 4.831
all women: 5.591


very tall men: 8.341
attractive men: 8.239
unattractive men: 6.893
overweight men: 6.794
very short men: 6.770
all men: 7.792

Being short is hard. It's not something that you can complain about without drawing harsh criticism. But for both men and women it can have a negative impact not only on your 'hourly wage', but your prospects for marriage, the way you are treated at restaurants and bars (short people have to wait longer) and self esteem.

"Taller workers receive a wage premium, and the disparity in wages is similar in magnitude to the race and gender gaps."(From The Effect of Adolescent Experience on Labor Market Outcomes: The Case of Height. University of Pennsylvania, October 8, 2001)

Why is it so unacceptable to ask that people stop discriminating on the basis of height? There is no evidence that short people are in some way inferior to tall people, but still we are treated as if we were.

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