Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Height and happiness

A recent article in the New York Times looked at the relationship between height and happiness.  It said that taller people were happier, but the relationship was stronger for men.  The results didn't actually involve happiness in the usual sense, but scores on the Gallup Index of Well-Being, which combines a numbers of things, ranging from how you felt yesterday to how often you'd visited the dentist in the last year.  I don't like indexes like this--feeling happy and visiting the dentist are both good things, but they're not the same thing.  So I looked at the relationship using answers to the question "In general, how satisfied are you with your life?" from the 2008 Behavioral Risk Factors Surveillance System.  Here's a graph showing the estimated relationship (using a cubic polynomial regression) for men and women:
The red line represents women and black represents men.  The figure shows that taller people report being more satisfied with life, up until they are about six inches taller than average for their sex.  Beyond that point, satisfaction declines (I wouldn't take the exact shape of the predictions too seriously for very tall people, since there aren't that many in the sample, but there's clearly some decline).  As the Times article said, the relationship seems to be stronger for men. 

1 comment:

  1. This is really interesting. Thank you for posting- I've been looking for a graph to give me a visual look at the data.