By Seth Peiris
“My first month at Brown, I was astounded by how many tall people there were,” remarked one student who took BOP’s December poll.
In 2006, economist Christina Paxson authored a research paper that asserted that “on average, taller people earn more because they are smarter.” Many students wonder whether she ever considers reassessing that statement in her current role as President of Brown University.
However, “C-Pax” might have a point. According to the Brown Opinion Project’s December 2022 poll, 76% of undergraduate men at Brown are either at or above the U.S. national average male height of 5’9”, and 65% of undergraduate women at Brown are either at or above the U.S. national average female height of 5’4”.
One 5’9” sophomore acknowledged the positive attributes of being taller, other than the apparent extra IQ points. They said, “I feel like I can see over crowds a little bit better. I can find people easier, and they can find me easier. [My height] affects me well.”
Another member of the class of 2025, standing at 5’5”, would not be shocked by the results of the poll. They said, “My first month at Brown I was astounded by how many tall people there were. I talked about it all the time. I thought it was like a requirement on college apps or something — to say your height 一 because it was insane… it was definitely noticeable.”
However, their perspective on other undergraduates’ heights has since changed. They continued, “Now I think it’s died down a little, maybe the freshman class is lame and short.”
Not everyone’s observations about Brown students’ heights were in agreement. Another sophomore, standing at 5’6”, said, “I don’t think I see a lot of tall people.” They then remembered Christina Paxson’s research, and added, “I don’t know how true, then, that makes C-Pax’s claim that tall people are smarter.”
Both the 5’6” sophomore and the 5’9” sophomore also noted that there is a tendency among men to lie about their heights. Another question on the poll asked, “Do you think you’re more attractive than the average Brown University student?” According to the poll, 80% of men who were 5’11” said they were either slightly or significantly more attractive, compared to 36% of 5’7” men. The correlation between height and self-perceived attractiveness may contribute to this observed height-dishonesty phenomenon.
In spite of both Christina Paxson’s findings and the newfound correlations between self-perceived attractiveness and height, everyone deserves to define themselves how they want to, regardless of their heights. Put simply, one of the sophomores polled said, “Here [at Brown], I don’t think it matters much.”
Note: All quoted poll-takers remain anonymous to maintain the integrity of Brown Opinion Project surveys. Brown Opinion Project conducted its December 2022 poll on November 28th, November 29th, and December 1st, collecting 576 total responses from Brown undergraduate students. The margin of error is 4.11% with 95% confidence.