London: Want to know which political party an individual will support? Then take note of the person's height.
The taller a person is, the more likely he or she is to support candidates from a conservative political party and actually vote for them, says a new study.
The study, conducted by Sara Watson, Assistant Professor at The Ohio State University, along with Raj Arunachalam, senior economist at Bates White LLC economic consulting firm, found that a one-inch increase in height raised support for the Conservative Party by 0.6 per cent and the likelihood of voting for the party by 0.5 per cent.
The authors discovered that the link between height and political views occurred in both men and women, but was roughly twice as strong for men. For men, each additional inch of height generates a 0.8 per cent increase in the likelihood of Conservative support, whereas for women the effect is 0.4 per cent.
The researchers used data from the 2006 British Household Panel Study, a survey which includes self-reported height, detailed income data and a number of questions about political beliefs for just over 9,700 adults.
“The results aren't as strange as they might appear. Many studies have found that taller people generally earn more income than do shorter people and researchers have thought income could be linked to voting,” said Watson in the study published in the British Journal of Political Science.
The findings stood up even after the researchers performed more detailed analyses to investigate whether the effect of height on political beliefs could be explained through other channels, including race, years of schooling, marital status and religion.
"It was important to us to figure out if the effect of height on voting could be explained by factors that have nothing to do with income," Watson added.
In a second part of the study, the researchers used height as an “instrumental variable” strategy to assess the relationship between income and voting.
"Height is useful in this context because it predicts income well. Because we only expect height to affect political behaviour through income, we can use it to investigate the effect of income on voting," Watson said.