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Consumer Reports

Taller people also have higher salaries | (KRT) Feeling shortchanged on salary? It could be because you're short.

Offering a new and much more literal measuring stick for the corporate glass ceiling, a University of Florida study says tall people earn better pay than short people. Each inch, the report said, adds $783 a year to someone's income.

The study, released this week, concluded height matters more in determining income than gender. Tall people best short people on job evaluations and even fare better on seemingly objective measures, like sales performance.

Researchers say the advantages probably come from an inclination to respect tall people and to view them as successful.

Apparently, people look up to people they have to look up to.

"It's kind of an implicit bias people have," said Timothy Judge, the 6-foot-tall University of Florida business professor who wrote the study with a 6-foot-2 colleague at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Judge likes to quantify the role human nature plays in the business world, often confirming conventional wisdom. He once published a paper that concluded smart people make the best workers and criticized firms for not conducting IQ tests when screening applicants.

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He began exploring height's impact on salaries after seeing a news report on a police officer who said she was denied raises for being short. Judge wondered if she had a point.

He joined Chapel Hill professor Daniel Cable in analyzing four large surveys in the United States and Britain that tracked thousands of people for a number of years and recorded myriad details from their lives.

In previous research, Judge found tall and short people were equals when it came to intelligence and self-esteem, leaving height as the main culprit in salary gaps. The average height for men in the United States is 5 feet 9 inches; for women, just over 5 feet 3 inches.

Judge found height helped most with jobs requiring social interaction, like sales, but short people also earned less in solitary careers like computer programming.

Apparently experience doesn't help, either. Short people in their 40s had the same disadvantage as short people in their 20s.

Part of the unequal treatment may be instinctive. Judge said the earliest humans probably viewed height as an advantage when it came to survival. But those advantages, he said, have no place in the modern world.

"I don't think you'll ever find a job description that says an applicant has got to be tall," Judge said. "The fact that it's weighed in an employment situation is kind of troubling."

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© 2003, The Miami Herald Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services