Height is an important trait when women evaluate the desirability of prospective male suitors. Of note, women are extremely unlikely to have a male partner who is shorter than them (see my earlier post here on this topic). Incidentally, I served as an expert commentator in the 2008 documentary titled S&M: Short and Male (I appear in the trailer around the 0:50 seconds mark). There are numerous benefits that accrue to tall people including the fact that they display greater satisfaction with their lives (see my discussion of this finding here). We also know that men’s height is correlated with occupational success (e.g., in politics and business). The good news for tall people (especially tall men) appears endless! In the immortal words of Rod Stewart, “Some guys have all the luck.”
A Swedish study adds to this long list of advantages by exploring the relationship between men’s height and their likelihood of committing suicide. In a 2005 paper published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, Patrik K. E. Magnusson, David Gunnell, Per Tynelius, George Davey Smith, and Finn Rasmussen investigated the height-suicide link for 1,299,177 Swedish men born between 1950-1981. In total, 3,075 men had committed suicide (0.24% of the full cohort). The researchers also measured several possible confounding variables including body mass index, and parental socioeconomic index and education.
Here is the key finding: By using one of several hazard models, the researchers found that a five-centimeter increase in height yielded a 9% decrease in risk for suicide. Shorter men were substantially more likely to commit suicide than taller men, and this relationship held true even when several confounding variables were taken into account.
The researchers offered several possible factors that might be driving this relationship. For example, to the extent that height and occupational status are correlated, and since occupational status is associated with success in the mating market (for men), one might imagine that all other things equal, shorter men are more likely to be of low-status and be single (possible precursors of suicide).
Bottom line: It pays to be a tall man. Luckily, mate choice is a compensatory process, and hence men could overcome their smaller stature via other redeeming qualities. If this were not true, I could not have convinced my wife to choose me as a partner!
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