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Bertan Budak
14 September 2011 10:16 | By Bertan Budak, contributor, MSN Him

Is your height holding you back?

Is your height holding you back? (© AP)

Whether you're short or tall, your height dictates the course of both your professional and personal life, experts say. But does this mean a generation of short and tall men are destined for failure?

Some of the greatest men in history were short: Napoleon Bonaparte (5ft 7in); Winston Churchill (5ft 7in); Mohandas Gandhi (5ft 4in) and Martin Luther King (5ft 6.5in). Yet they still changed the world in a big way: India gained independence; blacks and whites now live side-by-side and the Germans were kept off British shores.

Whether you choose to believe it or not, experts say your height has a wide influence over how much you're paid, who you end up dating and, more shockingly, your life expectancy. Has your height put you at an advantage or has it destined you to a life of failure? MSN Him finds out.

On Bing: the tallest men in the world

Height in the boardroom

Height in the boardroom (© AP)

Numerous studies from Britain, America and more recently, Australia, have all found that men who're 6ft tall or over earn, on average, £500 more than those who're 5ft 10in or below - that's a pay rise equivalent to an extra 12 months' experience.

Many experts believe employers find taller people more desirable as they command more respect than their vertically challenged counterparts.

Professor Andrew Leigh, who led the study at the Australian National University, said. "We found that taller people earn more, with the effect being strongest for men [as opposed to women]. For example, the average man in our sample is 5 feet 10 inches tall.

"Our estimates suggest that if he was 6 feet tall, he would earn another 1.5 per cent."

Another 2005 survey of Fortune 500 CEOs found that an overwhelming 90 per cent of CEOs in the US are 6ft or over, while only 3 per cent are below the national average height of 5ft 10in.

Nonetheless, many short men have enjoyed success in the boardroom, including Lord Alan Sugar and Simon Cowell - both of whom are among the richest men in the country. Looks like there's hope for the diminutive businessman after all.

On Bing: the shortest men in the world

Height in the bedroom

Height in the bedroom (© AP)

Another recent study has found that women love taller men because they're better fighters and are more powerful than shorter males. It builds on the conclusion that someone who is 6ft or over is able to offer adequate protection to women and their offspring than, say, someone who is 5ft 5in.

Dr David Carrier, who led the study, said: "From the perspective of sexual selection theory, women are attracted to powerful males, not because powerful males can beat them up, but because powerful males can protect them and their children from other males."

Some studies have even shown that taller men are reproductively more successful than shorter men, hinting that women have the same level of expectations as other female species when selecting a breeding partner.

But it's not all bad news fellas: there are several vertically challenged men out there who've bagged themselves drop-dead gorgeous girlfriends. Take Jamie Callum, the 32-year-old jazz crooner who is married to Sophie Dahl and Tom Cruise who, at 5ft 7in, is two whole inches shorter than his wife, the gorgeous Katie Holmes.

There has also been a rise in the number of tall women dating short men, with celebrities such as Mick Jagger and Bernie Ecclestone both dating women who're considerably taller than they are, proving that height is merely a number...

Height in the doctor's room

Height in the doctor's room (© AP)

Tall men have a higher risk of developing testicular cancer, which affects some 2,000 men a year in Britain, according to scientists. A thorough analysis of 13 previous studies, involving thousands of men, found that half of all cases occur in men who're aged 35 or under, with those between the ages of 25 and 34 the most likely to be infected.

It's not clear how the two are linked but experts believe the hormones involved in growth also help to trigger the disease. But that doesn't necessarily mean you have to live your life in fear. Taller people are, in fact, less likely to develop other conditions such as heart disease, says Dr Jane Green.

She said: "The fact that the link between height and cancer risk seems to be common to many different types of cancer in different people suggests there may be a basic common mechanism, perhaps acting early in peoples' lives, when they are growing.

"Of course people cannot change their height. And being taller has actually been linked to a lower risk of other conditions, such as heart disease."

On Bing: height and health

Height in the classroom
Princeton University economists Anne Case and Christina Paxson concluded in a controversial 2006 study that taller people don't make more money because of discrimination against short people, but because they're simply smarter.

They said: "As early as age three - before schooling has had a chance to play a role -- and throughout childhood, taller children perform significantly better on cognitive tests."

Is your height holding you back? (© AP)

Adding weight to their claims, another study by Nicola Persico, Andrew Postlewaite and Dan Silverman of the University of Pennsylvania, found that men who're tall from a young age are in a better position to develop the skills needed to thrive in a high-pressured and competitive boardroom.

"Two adults of the same age and height who were different heights at age 16 are treated differently on the labor market," Persico, Postlewaite and Silverman concluded. The person who was taller as a teen earns more."

"Those who were relatively short when young were less likely to participate in social activities associated with the accumulation of productive skills and attributes, and report lower self-esteem."

At the end of the day, whether you 5ft 5 or 6ft 5, only you can steer the direction of both your professional and personal life. And it's worth noting that the stats and figures mentioned in this article aren't absolutes - there are plenty of examples of men who don't conform to the stereotypes given by findings from a study. With a strong will and sheer determination, there's no reason why you shouldn't succeed in life.

On Bing: Height and intelligence

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