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. Gary Richardson says:

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

    As in not as smart or as in their brains are closer to the ground?

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  2. Paul says:

    Newton was 5′ 6″. Last I checked he was considered to be somewhat intelligent.

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  3. Jeremy says:

    I have to agree that the information presented is not thorough enough to portray a conclusion.

    I hope the article gets into issues like how short you have to be in order to become a serial killer, etc.

    Realistically though, aaron is probably right. Poor nutrition correlates with poverty which correlates with crime (and may also touch on Joe’s comment about law enforcement bias). Poverty also tends to be neighborhood-centric and in earlier times with lesser mobility people may have been likely to find their mate closer to home subsequently creating entire slums of poor, short, criminals. Or something like that. :)

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  4. martin Henner says:

    Maybe the shorter or smaller people were more likely to be bullied when they were children, and had to develop skills in fighting to defend themselves, which enabled them for crime.

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  5. Scott S. says:

    Interesting. Pickpocketing was a very common crime in the 19th Century and those who were pickpockets skewed towards younger, smaller men, I believe. Pickpockets probably got arrested over and over again. Smaller men could also be useful in confidence games.

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  6. Bux says:

    Sounds similar to the work of Harvard professor William Sheldon’s work in the 1940s on the relationship between certain body types and criminality. Sheldon found that a mesomorphic body type (medium bones, solid torso, low fat levels, wide shoulders with a narrow waist, etc.) was more likely to be present among criminals.

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  7. Grant says:

    I think #6 got it. Lack of nutrition –> poverty –> propensity for crime.

    #13 probably also has a point, though doesn’t research suggest that taller people are viewed as more trustworthy?

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  8. height challenged lover says:

    I do not believe the reason the crimes are being more committed by short people. I think that it is just a coincidence. It does not matter how short you and not being able to get a job. There are plenty of jobs out there that don’t need manual labor and that it wouldn’t matter if you could carry a lot or not. I believe that it is just a coincidence and people should not pin this against short people. They the same opportunities as we do and are not more likely to commit crimes in my opinion.

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