In some cases, employers have a justifiable need for workers of certain sizes. Height is a benefit if you're trying out for a basketball team, for example, and a few extra inches also couldn't hurt for peach pickers or power-line technicians. On the other end of the spectrum, there are many jobs (think coal miners and fighter pilots) that may call for shorter, more compact workers.
Yet, according to a 2004 study by researchers at the University of Florida and the University of North Carolina, employers seem to reward only taller workers for their size.
The study, which was published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, looked at surveys of thousands of workers -- not all of them peach pickers or basketball players – and found that those who were 6-feet tall earned $5,525 per year more than a colleague who is 7 inches shorter.
Professors Anne Case of Princeton University and Christina Paxson of Brown University argue that there is some justification for this height bias. As a group, Case and Paxson say, taller people tend to have been fed better in childhood. And that nourishment can boost their cognitive development, academic success and other qualities that lead to better-paying jobs.
"It's not height" that boosts salary, Case says in an interview. "It's the fact that height is a marker for good nutrition and health in childhood."