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December 14, 2007


Luis Enrique

Hold on, isn't Notsneaky saying that the point is that height is correlated with unobserved ability, not that it's correlated with with earnings. So don't you have to adjust your post to say public school education is correlated with unobserved ability (seems easy enough). I don't think I can put links in comments here, so see Notsneaky post " You know Rawls'd be all about taxin'im some height!"

Taking that logic further, should we base the tax codes on exam results?

Matt Munro

"Height, says Mankiw, is one such asset. It's correlated with productivity - the tall earn more on average - but taxing tall men won't make them shorter. A height tax is therefore efficient."

Er, at risk of sounding like a strucuralist, and being somehwhat vertically challenged myself, and bearing in mind that I think even you have argued that high wages does not equal productive person, couldn't it just be that short people are discrimiated against ?


Mankiw's paper may be an interesting theoretical aside, but it is only theory. Surely we tax income above all for the practical purpose that it is where the money is.

I can't contribute towards a new hospital by writing an essay or solving a maths problem. Or in exchange for an inch of height.

Devil's Kitchen

What do I say? I say all of these recent postings are a bit silly, Chris. Do you not think that it is a mite cheeky to espouse state schooling on "egalitarian grounds", and then propose -- even as an intellectual argument -- taxes that are utterly unrelated to ability to pay?

That is essentially what you are doing. And I find the recent series of posts on taxing people's physical characteristics slightly distasteful.

I'd like to see you carry on the series and propose that we should tax black people more heavily than white people because they cause proportionately more crime and thus cost the state money. It's just as valid an argument as any of the others you have been making.*


* Before someone starts jumping up and down, calling me a racist, that is the point of this comment. We regard racism as being beyond the pale and we certainly wouldn't tax people according to the colour of their skin so why should we tax people because they are tall? Or because their parents sent them to public school? DK


DK: "I find the recent series of posts on taxing people's physical characteristics slightly distasteful."

A complaint about poor taste from DK?




"It's correlated with productivity - the tall earn more on average": I've come a bit late to this discussion, so forgive me if you've answered this before. Does height correlate with income AFTER you control for the positive correlation of height with IQ? Public School Boys: is there still a correlation after you control for height?


Dearieme - there's some evidence that the height premium is mainly because tall people are smarter; maybe IQ and height are both the result of favourable womb conditions or early nutrition:
But the point is that whereas you can fake IQ, you can't fake your height, making the latter a more obvious target for taxation.

Tim Worstall

"Of course, such a tax might reduce the future supply of public schoolboys, as parents choose to send kids to state schools. But this might be desirable on egalitarian grounds.
Now, here's the rub. If you think taxes on income are very distortionary - that Laffer curves matter - then you should especially welcome calls to tax inelastic productive assets such as height or having had a private education, as you should believe the efficiency gains from doing so are potentially great."

It might reduce the current supply of public schoolboys, says this public schoolboy currently resident outside the UK.

Proving, perhaps, that when talking of Laffer Curves one has to be very careful in how one defines "inelastic".


Sigh. Wondered when you were going to come back to this, Chris.


So all those chaps who claim that they're 6 foot 4 will finally admit that they're only 6 foot 2. Dillow, Crusader for Truth!

Bishop Hill

A tax on height eh? And a personal allowance of 5'2", if we're lucky.

I could end up paying bugger all!

Luis Enrique

on further thought, my first comment on this post is probably gibberish. At least I think.


Can't we just cut their throats or pelt them with bricks?



See DK's comment above:
"Can't we just cut Jews/Muslims/single mothers throats?"
Doesn't have that nice "we can say this with impunity" feel to it anymore.

Or one for you perhaps:
"Can't we just pelt ignorant and bigotted people called Jim with bricks?"



bloggertarians who live in glass houses shouldn't throw bricks:

"Oh but it's funny when *he* says it".


Ah, so when you said "Can't we just pelt *THEM* with bricks?", you were in fact referring to DK. Is there more than one of him?

I assume also from your use of the word "bloggertarian" that you are positively bursting with positive suggestions. Like "pelting them with bricks".

No wonder I was confused.





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Darrin Mish

Since I'm a bit over 2 metres tall does this put me at risk for higher taxes? I sure hope not. Let's tax the short instead. Oh....that's right, kid's don't have much money.


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