Join

Enter Details

Comment on stories, receive email newsletters & alerts.

@
This is your permanent identity for Business Insider Australia
Your email must be valid for account activation
Minimum of 8 standard keyboard characters

Subscribe

Email newsletters but will contain a brief summary of our top stories and news alerts.

Forgotten Password

Enter Details


Back to log in

Science says you'll make less money if you are short and fat

The shortest man, Chandra Bahadur Dangi, meets the world’s tallest man, Sultan Kosen. Chandra, from Nepal, measures 54.6 cm. Sultan, from Turkey, is 251 cm. Image: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

The body you are dealt with in life is a strong predictor of whether you will find wealth or poverty.

Scientists have long known there is a link between body size and wealth but assumed that poorer people didn’t grow as tall or were not as healthy because of bad nutrition.

Now researchers at the University of Exeter in the UK have found strong evidence that being a shorter man or a more overweight woman leads to fewer chances in life, including lower income.

The study of 120,000 people, published in the British medical journal the BMJ, came to some stark conclusions.

Men who are 7.5cm shorter on average, purely because of genetics, earn about £1,500 ($2800) a year less than others.

Similarly, if a woman is 6.3kg heavier for no other reason than her genetics then this means her income is £1,500 ($2800) a year less than a comparable woman of the same height who is lighter.

“This is the best available evidence to indicate that your height or weight can directly influence your earnings and other socioeconomic factors throughout your life,” says Professor Tim Frayling of the University of Exeter Medical School.

“This won’t apply in every case, many shorter men and overweight women are very successful, but science must now ask why we are seeing this pattern.

“Is this down to factors such as low self-esteem or depression, or is it more to do with discrimination?

“In a world where we are obsessed with body image, are employers biased? That would be bad both for the individuals involved and for society.”

The scientists explain the research in this video clip:

The researchers say shorter height leads to lower levels of education, lower job status, and less income, particularly in men.

A range of factors could link taller stature to a higher social position although this study did not look at which factors.

However, the researchers say possibilities include complex interactions between self esteem, stigma, positive discrimination and increased intelligence.

“These findings have important social and health implications, supporting evidence that overweight people, especially women, are at a disadvantage and that taller people, especially men, are at an advantage,” they write.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn