Is Love Colorblind, Part MLXXVI
June 21, 2009, 05:23 PM
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Anthropometry of Love: Height and Gender Asymmetries in Interethnic Marriages

Mich?¨le Belot , Jan Fidrmuc

Both in the UK and in the US, we observe puzzling gender asymmetries in the propensity to outmarry: Black men are substantially more likely to have white spouses than Black women, but the opposite is true for Chinese: Chinese men are half less likely to be married to a White person than Chinese women. We argue that differences in height distributions, combined with a simple preference for a taller husband, can explain a large proportion of these ethnic-specific gender asymmetries. Blacks are taller than Asians, and we argue that this significantly affects their marriage prospects with whites. We provide empirical support for this hypothesis using data from the Health Survey for England and the Millenium Cohort Study, which contains valuable and unique information on heights of married couples.

Yes, I'm sure height plays a role, as I wrote in 1997 (citing height along with hair length and muscularity as visible differences) but black and white men are almost identical in height in the U.S. (Non-Hispanic white men are 0.4 inches taller on average than black men.) Moreover, Asians appear to have been getting taller at a fairly fast rate, both in Asia and in America, while whites and blacks have barely been getting taller. (White men age 20-39 are only 0.4" taller than white men age 40-59.)

And yet the Gender Gaps did not shrink between the 1990 and 2000 Censuses.

Black women have seemed to be getting fatter, while black men have tended to stay in decent shape. Among blacks 20-39, women now have larger waists than men, which can't help black women in the mating market.