Tall Man

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Damn you, tall people. They block your view at the movie theater. They're a pain to shop for: Who really wants to drag themselves to the Big & Tall to buy Uncle Lurch a pair of extra-long pants? They're the ones with better chances of becoming pro basketball players, or supermodels.

Squirts probably don't need any more reasons to envy their longer-limbed neighbors. Unfortunately, a new study just added to the indignity of short people. According to a paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research, both men and women who are above average height — 5 ft. 10 in. for males, 5 ft. 4 in. for females — report higher levels of happiness than smaller people. (See 10 perfect jobs for the recession — and after.)

In the study, men who call their lives the "worst possible" are nearly an inch shorter than the average man. The women most down in the dumps are half an inch smaller, on average, than the average woman. Taller people say they are more content, and are less likely to report a range of negative emotions like sadness and physical pain. "Happiness is just one more thing that taller people have going for them," says Angus Deaton, a Princeton economist and co-author of the study, who stands a smug 6 ft. 4 in. (Full disclosure: I, too, am about 6 ft. 4 in., but I will refrain from mocking shrimps in this story.)

Why are tall people happier? According to Deaton's analysis, the result is linked to education and income. The study found that taller people tend to have more education, and thus higher income levels, than shorter people. It follows that the smarter, richer tall people would be sunnier than their vertically challenged compatriots. "Money buys enjoyment and higher life evaluation," says Deaton. "It buys off stress, anger, worry and pain. Income is the thing!"

To gain some real-world insight into these stats, I called the first smart short person I could think of, a friend named Milton Lee. Despite what these studies indicate, smart short...
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