Should we tax tall people?

Eric Crampton blogs:

Greg Mankiw proposed a height tax as a bit of a reductio on the efficient tax literature. You can’t adjust your height; height predicts income. So tax height and incentives around income remain clean. Ta-dah!

Work in the BMJ suggests that the height-income link is causal from height to income and works through genes – but mostly for men. A standard deviation (6.3 cm) increase in genetically predicted male height is associated with a £1580 increase in income. Obesity matters too, but for women. A standard deviation increase in genetically predicted BMI reduced women’s household income by £2940.

Of course you can not choose your gender or choose your height. Within reason, you do choose your weight.

Now we hear all the time that we must have gender equality in pay – that women on average must be paid the same as men on average, regardless of what actual jobs they hold, whether FT or PT etc. We have scores of headlines about the gender pay gap.

So why not the same publicity and campaigning on height equality in pay? If shorter man get paid on average less than taller men, why is this form of inequality deemed less worthy than gender inequality in pay?

Comments (35)

Login to comment or vote