Working Paper 10/245 - abstract

Child Height, Health and Human Capital: Evidence using Genetic Markers (PDF, 1,398kB)

Stephanie von Hinke Kessler Scholder, George Davey Smith, Debbie A. Lawlor, Carol Propper and Frank Windmeijer

Height has long been recognized as being associated with better outcomes: the question is whether this association is causal. We use children’s genetic variants as instrumental variables to deal with possible unobserved confounders and examine the effect of child/adolescent height on a wide range of outcomes: academic performance, IQ, self-esteem, depression symptoms and behavioral problems. OLS findings show that taller children have higher IQ, perform better in school, and are less likely to have behavioral problems. The IV results differ: taller girls (but not boys) have better cognitive performance and, in contrast to the OLS, greater height appears to increase behavioral problems.