Or so say Anne Case and Christina Paxson, in the latest Journal of Political Economy:
The well-known association between height and earnings is often thought to reflect factors such as self-esteem, social dominance, and discrimination. We offer a simpler explanation: height is positively associated with cognitive ability, which is rewarded in the labor market. Using data from the United States and the United Kingdom, we show that taller children have higher average cognitive test scores and that these test scores explain a large portion of the height premium in earnings. Children who have higher test scores also experience earlier adolescent growth spurts, so that height in adolescence serves as a marker of cognitive ability.It has to be a bit demoralizing for someone like Robert Reich, who is 4-foot-10 1/2, to be flipping through the latest JPE, and read that "height is positively associated with cognitive ability." While it certainly doesn't reflect on Reich's cognitive ability (I disagree with him sometimes, but he's clearly quite intelligent), it can't bode well for his kids.