There are plenty of studies that claim it pays to be tall. A 2004 report found that each inch of height amounts to a salary increase of about $789 per year (controlling for gender, weight and age). Another concluded that taller people are flat out smarter. Indeed, no American president has been below average height since 1888.

So it is with a heavy heart that I (full disclosure: 5'8'') pass along this new finding from NBER that short people, due to their struggles in the labor market, made up an oversized portion of our early prison population.

This paper considers the extent to which crime in early America was conditioned on height. With data on inmates incarcerated in Pennsylvania state penitentiaries between 1826 and 1876, we estimate the parameters of Wiebull proportional hazard specifications of the individual crime hazard. Our results reveal that, consistent with a theory in which height can be a source of labor market disadvantage, criminals in early America were shorter than the average American, and individual crime hazards decreased in height.

In other words, short people deserve your pity. But we probably had it worse when hard labor jobs made up a larger part the economy.

Update: Another study finds that shorter women make more money. Bakadesuyo concludes: "Looks like men get rewarded for what is deemed as masculine and women get rewarded for what is seen as feminine. Seems to make sense. I didn't say it was fair, I just said it made sense."

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