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J Biosoc Sci. 2007 Jul;39(4):575-82. Epub 2006 Oct 3.

Influence of height on attained level of education in males at 19 years of age.

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Institute of Anthropology, Polish Academy of Science, Wrocław, Poland.


In this study it is hypothesized that taller individuals are more likely to move up the scale of educational attainment compared with shorter individuals from the same social background. Three national cohorts of 19-year-old males were considered: 29,464 born in 1967 and surveyed in 1986, 31,062 born in 1976 and surveyed in 1995, and 30,851 born in 1982 and surveyed in 2001. Four social variables were used to describe the social background of each conscript in the three surveys: degree of urbanization, family size, and parental and maternal educational status. The educational status of each conscript was classified into two groups: (1) those who were secondary school students or graduates, or who had entered college, and (2) those who had completed their education at the primary school level or who had gone to a basic trade school. Multiple binomial logistic regressions were used to estimate the relative risk of achieving higher educational status by 19-year-old males relative to height and the four social factors. Consistently across the three cohorts the odd ratios (ORs) indicate that height exerts an independent and significant effect on the attained level of education at the age of 19 years in males (1986: OR=1.24, p<0.001; 1995: OR=1.24, p <0.001; 2001: OR=1.20, p<0.001). Two possible, not mutually exclusive, selective mechanisms are postulated and discussed: 'passive' and 'active' action.

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