If you want a pay rise — stand tall. Willowy men and women earn more money throughout their lives than their shorter colleagues, with each inch adding about £493 a year in pay, says research.
“Height matters for career success,” said Prof Timothy Judge, whose research will appear in the spring issue of the Journal of Applied Psychology.
“These findings are troubling in that, with a few exceptions such as professional basketball, no one could argue that height is an essential ability required for job performance nor a bona fide occupational qualification.”
Academics analysed the results of four large-scale studies in Britain and the US. The studies followed thousands of participants from childhood to adulthood, examining details of their work and personal lives.
Prof Judge, who teaches management at the University of Florida, and Daniel Cable, a business professor at the University of North Carolina, said the study was controlled for gender, weight and age. They found that each inch in height added about £493 a year in pay. “If you take this over the course of a 30-year career and compound it, we’re talking about hundreds of thousands of pounds of earnings advantage that a tall person enjoys,” Prof Judge said.
Greater height boosted subjective ratings of work performance, including supervisors’ evaluations of how effective someone is in the job, and also raised measures of performance such as sales volume, he said.
The influence of height may be a remnant of our evolutionary origins, from a time when humans lived among animals and size was an index of power and strength used when making “fight or flight” decisions, he said. “They ascribed leader-like qualities to tall people because they thought they would be better able to protect them.”