The stature of the self-employed and its relation with earnings and satisfaction

Niels Rietveld, Jolanda Hessels, Peter van der Zwan

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26 Citations (Scopus)


Taller individuals have on average a higher socio-economic status than shorter individuals. In countries where entrepreneurs have high social status, we may therefore expect that entrepreneurs are taller than wage workers. Using data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (2002–2012), we find that a 1 cm increase in an individual's height raises the probability of being self-employed (the most common proxy for entrepreneurship) versus paid employed by 0.15 percentage points. Within the self-employed, the probability of being an employer is increased by 0.10 percentage points as a result of a 1 cm increase in height, whereas this increase is 0.05 percentage points for an own-account worker. This result corroborates the higher social status of employers compared to own-account workers. We find a height premium in earnings for self-employed and paid-employed individuals: an additional 1 cm in height is associated with a 0.39% increase in hourly earnings for paid employees and a 0.52% increase for self-employed individuals. Our analysis reveals that approximately one third of the height premium in earnings is explained by differences in educational attainment. We also establish the existence of a height premium in terms of work and life satisfaction, which is more pronounced for paid employees than for self-employed individuals.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)59-74
Number of pages16
JournalEconomics and Human Biology
Issue numberApril
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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