Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Height and happiness

Another story, tall people lead 'better lives'. It's an interesting distinction between correlation and causation: actually, if you read the paper (again, subscription or employer/university-based access required) from Economics and Human Biology, though, what's actually found is that this relationship - while fairly consistent if you only control for gender and race - almost entirely disappears if you control for education and income too.

What actually appears to be happening, as Deaton and Arora also suggest, is that people with high incomes and good education are likely to be happier with their current situation ('better lives' is a self-assessment, in this case: on a scale from 0 to 10, where 0 is the worst it could have gone, and 10 is the best, how well do you think your life is going?). They point out that growing up in a well-off family makes it far more likely that you'll be in good health and well-nourished, which makes you more likely to reach your intrinsic height, and also makes it likely you'll have access to a good education - which means a high income.

Statistically, at least, money can buy happiness, then. That's not really newsworthy, though.