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Height, Human Capital, and Earnings: The Contributions of Cognitive and Noncognitive Ability

Andreas Schick and Richard Steckel

Journal of Human Capital, 2015, vol. 9, issue 1, 94 - 115

Abstract: Taller workers receive a substantial premium in earnings or wages, which some studies attribute to noncognitive abilities or social skills that are correlated with stature and rewarded in the labor market. Recent research argues that cognitive abilities explain the relationship. This paper reconciles the competing views by recognizing that net nutrition, a major determinant of adult height, fosters both cognitive and noncognitive abilities. Using data from Britain's National Childhood Development Study, we show that taller children have higher average cognitive and noncognitive test scores and that each aptitude accounts for a substantial and roughly equal portion of the stature-earnings premium. Together, cognitive and noncognitive abilities explain the height premium.

Date: 2015
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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jhucap:doi:10.1086/679675