The effect of height on family income

Edem Ekwo*, Carol Gosselink, Nancy Roizen, Dana Brazdziunas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The effect of height on earnings of adult males sampled in the second National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1976–1980, was examined. Data were collected using the multistage probability sampling method. Information was available on medical history, physical examination, anthropometric dimensions, diet, and sociodemographic characteristics. Complete information was available on 4,563 males, aged 20–65 years. The correlation between family income and height was low (r = 0.13, P = 0.001). There was a secular trend for increasing mean height over time, so that younger individuals were taller than older ones even after correction for the decrease in stature caused by aging. After stratifying by age and race, education and marital status, but not height, were significantly associated with total family income. The weight‐height ratio was significantly related to income of Whites but not of nonwhites. White males in the highest income category were significantly taller, heavier, more adipose, had higher levels of education, and were more often married than were their lowest income white counterparts. Among nonwhites, marital status and education alone differentiated highest from lowest income nonwhite males. Thus, at least for White males, appearance, that is, adiposity, together with education and marital status, are major factors relating to income.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)181-188
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Human Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Anthropology
  • Genetics

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