Investigating the total contribution of body height to the variance decomposition of several outcomes in a multinational setting

Faculty/Professorship: Leibniz Institute for Educational Trajectories (LIfBi) 
Author(s): Bittmann, Felix  
Publisher Information: Social Science Research Network
Year of publication: 2021
Pages: 33
Language(s): English
Posted: 13 Apr 2021
The association of body height and various outcomes has been studied in detail. While most studies find positive relationships linking additional height to more positive outcomes like higher life satisfaction or increased wages, the overall contribution of height to the variance decomposition of these outcomes is often neglected. Even when studies report measures of model fit like R², due to the design of the analytical models it is often not possible to isolate the additional contribution of height. The inclusion of other independent variables that are only marginally associated with height further obstructs the contribution of height. Reported values of explained variance, which are often below ten percent in many studies, are thus to be seen as upper bounds and the pure contribution of height must be lower, at least in developed nations. This is a serious knowledge gap and deserves more attention. Using European Social Survey data including 20 countries, our analyses demonstrate that the overall contribution of height to outcomes like life satisfaction, household income, prestige of the position in the labour market and years of education is lower than 0.012 with similar findings for men and women. When cross-national comparisons are inspected, there are only small country differences and just a few countries display marginally larger contributions which reach up to about five percentage points. These findings are relevant when putting the total effects of height into context.
Keywords: height, income, variance decomposition, satisfaction
Type: Workingpaper
Release Date: 23. April 2021