More Bad News for the Height-Challenged

They’re more likely to be criminals! Or at least they were in 19th-century Pennsylvania, according to a new working?paper by Howard Bodenhorn, Carolyn Moehling, and Gregory N. Price. The authors don’t identify a reason for the height differential, but do point out that “[i]f in early America, short individuals faced labor market disadvantage because of either lower productivity due to lesser physical capacity for heavy work, lesser productivity due to lower cognitive ability, or because they faced discrimination, the relative opportunity costs of crime would be lower which would increase the likelihood of transitioning into criminal activity.”[%comments]

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  1. Kevin says:

    This reminds me of my great-grandfather Joseph Drury. I never knew him, but my mom told me about him. He stood 5-5, a stark contrast to the men in my generation, who are all 5-11 and up. But due to his short stature, Joseph became a gun runner for the IRA in 1916. Since his appearance was so non-threatening, he could get through security checkpoints armed to the teeth. I hear he was very charming if you got to know him. My mom sure liked him.

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  2. Joe D says:

    Or is it possible they were just that much more likely arrested and convicted due to bias on the part of John Law?

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  3. Neil says:

    Being a criminal isn’t a bad life — the head of a mob or gang (e.g. the Black Gangster Disciple Nation) from Freakonomics could make much more money than someone working in the legal marker.

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  4. Robert Evans says:

    A useless observation because there is no link to a publication, nor an evaluation of the evidence and strength of the relationships, if any. The authors may be correct, they may be wrong. The Times reader, on the basis of what is presented, can not make an independent judgement.

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  5. Philippe says:

    “short individuals [...] lesser productivity due to lower cognitive ability”

    What?!?! Short == Stupid?!!

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  6. aaron says:

    Probably nutrition and poverty are the actual drivers.

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  7. Eric M. Jones says:

    But Phrenology was quite common then, so head bumps and shape and all physiognomy were all used to predict personality and character traits.

    Be careful, it’s all malarky! Although, I do think it is undeniable that “Short people have no reason to live….”

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  8. bob says:

    Short People
    Randy Newman

    Short People got no reason
    Short People got no reason
    Short People got no reason
    To live

    They got little hands
    And little eyes
    And they walk around
    Tellin’ great big lies
    They got little noses
    And tiny little teeth
    They wear platform shoes
    On their nasty little fett

    Well, I don’t want no Short People
    Don’t want no Short People
    Don’t want no Short People
    Round here

    Short People are just the same
    As you and I
    (A Fool Such As I)
    All men are brothers
    Until the day they die
    (It’s A Wonderful World)

    Short People got nobody
    Short People got nobody
    Short People got nobody
    To love

    They got little baby legs
    And they stand so low
    You got to pick ‘em up
    Just to say hello
    They got little cars
    That got beep, beep, beep
    They got little voices
    Goin’ peep, peep, peep
    They got grubby little fingers
    And dirty little minds
    They’re gonna get you every time
    Well, I don’t want no Short People
    Don’t want no Short People
    Don’t want no Short People
    ‘Round here

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