Are Rich People Taller?

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There are two sides to this argument. You could ask, "are richer people more likely to be taller?" Alternatively, "does being tall help you get rich?". These questions both portray different meanings, is there any correlation between height and wealth, is that because being rich helps you fulfill your maximum potential height, or is it because being taller gives you an advantage in a career?

I'm asked about this topic on a regular basis and I've therefore chosen to write the answers, with evidence to back me up. But first, I'd like to mention my own personal experiences (not taking into account factual evidence).

Throughout my career, I've noticed both within the organizations I've worked (including the Zurich Institute of Height) and casual day to day experiences outside of work - that people in positions of authority such as CEO's of large companies, managers of medium sized businesses and even senior government members all seem to be a bit taller than the average person. Are they only in these positions because they are tall? Does this imply short people find it difficult to get good jobs?

Is there a correlation between height and wealth?

We all know that civilised and developed nations are usually taller than poorer nations. This is primarily down to better nutrition rather than wealth (although you could argue that a countries wealth and the quality of food on offer are highly correlated)., however there's no hiding away from the fact thhat certain ethnic groups do have genes that have predetermined their smaller stature. So in this post I want to concentrate purely on developed nations, this will eliminate the argument that certain ethnic groups are taller.

The height of CEOs in Forbes Fortune 500

It's quite easy to prove that a correlation between height and wealth exists. The chart below illustrates the significant height different between the average male American and all male CEOs of the Forbes Fortune 500 companies.

There is a 3.8cm (1.5 inch) difference between these two groups of males, evidencing a clear divide between wealthy individuals and the average American.

Some may argue that CEOs are racially skewed, meaning that in the US there tends to be a higher proportion of white CEOs than there actual population percentage. However I feel that this hardly impacts on the results because there is little ethnic height differential between black and white Americans.

So why does this difference exist? Why are wealthier people taller on average? Does being wealthy create a lifestyle that promotes growth, or does being tall improve career prospects, resulting in a high salary?

Does being wealthy create a lifestyle that promotes growth, or does being tall improve career prospects, resulting in a higher salary?
Wealth creates an ideal lifestyle for maximizing height

It has already been proven that nutrition and diet play a significant role in determining our final height, although this is only really strictly true for the first 16-18 years of our lives. Poor quality foods, do not provide adequate nutrients for optimal growth. Poor countries such as North Korea, Zimbabwe and Moldova all have shorter populations than you would expect when compared with their ethnic richer counterparts. These countries do not have a huge variety of foods available to their natives. Whereas rich countries such as those in northern Europe have an abundance of foods available to such an extent that the majority of natives can eat what they want, when they want. The general healthier lifestyle in these richer countries is also playing a part.

The link between wealth and height is so strong that some say you can even measure a countries health by the average height of it's citizens. Have you ever seen a small King or Prince? Did you know that all major British Royalty figures have stood considerably taller than the average Brit? It shouldn't come as a surprise considering the high quality food they all had in their youth.

Being tall improves career prospects

It's much harder to prove this. Unfortunately I don't have factual evidence, as I've never had to recruit or promote people, even if I did, I'd be sued for discrimination. However my own experience of seeing what happens around me, and around my friends and family, I have no doubt in my mind that shorter people tend to struggle in the political environment within companies. I personally know short people who have gone on to do exceptionally well in their careers, but it's usually not the case. Climbing the company ladder involves socializing, influencing people and making friends with those in power. Sadly evidence suggests that there is a psychological disadvantage for short people when it comes to these factors.

I'd love to hear your opinions on this subject.

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Comments

admin's picture
Couldn't be more true. In our company the only people ever to get promoted are the tall guys.

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