The male-taller norm: Lack of evidence from a developing country
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© 2015 Elsevier GmbH.In general, women prefer men taller than themselves; this is referred to as the male-taller norm. However, since women are shorter than men on average, it is difficult to determine whether the fact that married women are on average shorter than their husbands results from the norm or is a simple artifact generated by the shorter stature of women. This study addresses the question by comparing the rate of adherence to the male-taller norm between actual mating and hypothetical random mating. A total of 7954 actually married couples are drawn from the last follow-up of the Indonesian Family Life Survey, a nationally representative survey. Their heights were measured by trained nurses. About 10,000 individuals are randomly sampled from the actual couples and randomly matched. An alternative random mating of about 100,000 couples is also performed, taking into account an age difference of 5 years within a couple. The rate of adherence to the male-taller norm is 93.4% for actual couples and 88.8% for random couples. The difference between the two figures is statistically significant, but it is emphasized that it is very small. The alternative random mating produces a rate of 91.4%. The male-taller norm exists in Indonesia, but only in a statistical sense. The small difference suggests that the norm is mostly explained by the fact that women are shorter than men on average.
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