Report Scathing on Growing Height Inequality
Nutritional advances may be improving life for many people
around the world, but they are also widening the gap between tall
and short, according to a U.N. report released today. An international
effort is needed to meet the growing needs of short people in the
areas of reaching things on tall shelves, getting some booty, and
finding their friends at crowded parties, according to the 2000
Human Development Report. Researchers with the U.N. Development
Program conducted a thorough examination that accounted for, among
other things, heel size, the "big hair factor," and slouching in
assessing the average height in 174 countries.
their findings were that access to high-paying jobs in the NBA and
fashion modeling were reserved almost exclusively for a "tall elite."
Many other indicators illustrate that the trend is international
in scope and concern, including an increasing gap between the tallest
and the shortest countries. In the principality of Monaco in 1996
there were 99 "big and tall" men's shops per 10,000 people, while
in Cambodia the figure was one. In tallish Switzerland people spend
an average of six hours of bending over per year, but in Pakistan
the average is twenty minutes. The problem is apparently at its
worst amongst a group known as "babies," of whom virtually all the
members have severe difficulty in reaching any object not placed
literally on the ground.
did not necessarily make the situation worse, but the report's author
Richard Holly-Jolly told reporters that governments should take
into account more than just trade issues when they consider international
policy. The report says international policy making must balance
a concern for profits with a concern for the upward growth of people
who have been affected by turmoil in the global marketplace.
is a two-edged sword while it's smashing to be vertically gifted,
it's a real downer to be a perpendicularly challenged,"' Holly-Jolly
pointed out. He added that tall people are increasingly consuming
the world's dwindling resources, "what with their enormous bellies
continued: "The upper shelves of supermarkets, where many of the
best bargains are hidden, have increasingly become the domain of
an elite few. Many of the short suffer from frequently blocked views
at sporting events and in theaters, denying them access to adequate
levels of diversion, even in places as devoted to diversion as Los
top 20 percent of the world's population is an average of 1'3" taller
than the bottom 20 percent. In 1960 it was only 9." "The 200 tallest
people in the world have more dunk shots than the combined total
of the lowest 40 percent of the world's population," said Holly-Jolly.
"A member of the tall elite is over 80 times as likely to have dated
Madonna as is a short person."
added: "It is important that we unite in a centrally-coordinated,
comprehensive approach to global threats such as disparate muscle
mass figures, gaps in dancing ability, and the fact that those Negro
fellows are so much quicker than us, and the Orientals so darned
clever." These glaring disparities are moving a network of investors
to sponsor efforts to tie CEO height to the size of a company's
shortest laborer. The group, called 'Responsible Height,' is backing
proposals to be voted on in coming months by shareholders of seven
major U.S. companies. If successful, the resolutions would set a
maximum ratio between the tallest and shortest person at each company.
UMI (United Midgets International), which assembled the 'Responsible
Height' investors' group, wants Congress to pass a proposed 'Height
Equity Act' capping the height of the tallest worker at 1.5 times
the height of the shortest in any given firm.
Nader joined the campaign, saying in an open letter to Shaquille
O'Neal: "We are increasingly becoming a nation, and even a world,
of 'reach' and 'reach-not,' of 'dunk' and 'dunk-not.' What will
you and your fellow Brobdingnagians do to help lessen the growing
height gap in modern society?"
Callahan is a regular contributor to mises.org,
Morgenstern is contributing editor at The
© 2001, Gene