A look at height and income inequality in different countries of the world

There has been a lot discussion on the topic of income inequality over the last few months in the media and elsewhere. When the average person imagines a country with more egalitarian distributions of income and extensive safety nets of social programs they picture countries who are also known as being fairly tall such as Norway or Netherlands. Is this a coincidence or due to some other effect?

 

The goal will not  be in seeking to create a conclusive research paper but rather a data driven approach will be taken by looking into publicly available data for both height and income inequality. To quantify income inequality the gini cofficient will be used. This metric is not without faults but it allows for ease in collecting world data given the popular use of this metric. For quantifying height the average height of the population of a country in centimeters will be used (cm). Wikipedia has data available for both of these metrics in the following sites.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_height#Average_height_around_the_world https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_distribution_of_wealth

 

Python has many modules available to do data fetching/parsing/analysis and will be used for this task along with Plotly. The script for this data fetching is available here.

 

Lets look at the data for Male's first. The outliers in the data set are the following.

Country : Gini Cofficient : Avg Height (cm)

Japan : 0.547 : 170.7

Bolivia : 0.762 : 160

Denmark : 0.808 : 182.6

world_income_inequality_and_male_height

 

In the data one observe's a trend that one would suspect in the relationship between a having a taller population and having a smaller amount of wealth inequality. This in reflected in the negative slope in the linear fit ( y = 204 - 44.2 x ). The data is not ideal in the sense that the income inequality over a large amount of time is likely more important in the effect of nutrition effects for the population but the wikipedia data is really only a snapshot of both height and income inequality.

 

The data for female's shows a similar trend. The outliers in the data set are the following.

Country : Gini Cofficient : Avg Height (cm)

Japan : 0.547 : 158

Bolivia : 0.762 : 142.2

Denmark : 0.808 : 168.7

 

world_income_inequality_and_female_height

 

After looking at the data we observe an amount of variance which is not ideal as real world data tends to be but there is enough evidence to lightly suggest that the common belief relationship between wealth inequality and height might have something to it but data which is a snapshot over a longer time would be very useful if available.

-j

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