Things that make me ping are love, women, classical music, good writings, unique ideas, childlike innocence, fair play, beauty...and this blog is about these lovely things...

Saturday, June 18, 2011

To Shiny No. 4 Anthropometric Economics


Economists are a bunch of interesting fellows. Or at least some of them are. Rather than residing in ivory towers, many go out and look for commonly little things and take them up as their research subjects. They would look to find out things we may generally sort of think so but are not quite sure, and they would confirm them for us with statistics. Or, sometimes, their conclusions would take us by total surprise. And when they can back them up with facts and figures, they would turn our assumed inclinations upside down, and then a brand new world is born.

An economist named John Komlos started a branch of economics called Anthropometric Economics—the study of the relationship between economics and human biology—in 1989. So it’s quite a new thing. He and other economists with similar interests would go out and comb through records of inmates in a prison, for example, to look for signs of particularity concerning the human body, and then try to make some sense of them with economics. Yes, they’ve confirmed that the handsomes and the prettys do enjoy advantages—not only in attracting mates, but in the labor market as well. A professor at Cornell University told us women with bigger breasts generally earn more than women with smaller breasts.

People who are handsomer and prettier would enjoy faster advancement in jobs than those whose looks are not as appealing. And if you’re taller, not only are you more self-confident, you will also earn more than people who are shorter. In Chinese, we have a saying: 矮仔多計. The economists have confirmed this with statistics. The shorties are smarter, but maybe it is forced by the fact that they have lesser opportunities than the taller ones. What do the shorties have to do to catch up? It turns out there are more shorties turning to criminal activities. If they can’t compete fair and square with the taller guys, they might as well bend the rules a bit. And they do.

And if you are fat, sorry, you not only will breathe more heavily and move around a bit slower, you’ll also be discriminated against in school, in society, in life. And you’ll generally earn less than the skinnier ones.

But then, everything seems to be balanced out in the end. In the old days when there were lords and slaves, those who were taller and stronger and prettier would more likely be caught and kept as slaves than their opposite cohorts. The shorties may have the last laugh.



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