"Taller workers earn on average higher salaries. Recent research has proposed cognitive abilities and social skills as explanations for the height-wage premium. Another possible mechanism, employer discrimination, has found little support. In this paper, we provide some evidence in favor of the discrimination hypothesis. Using a cross section of 13 countries, we show that there is a consistent height-wage premium across Europe and that it is largely due to occupational sorting. We show that height has a significant effect for the occupational sorting of employed workers but not for the self-employed. We interpret this result as evidence of employer discrimination in favor of taller workers. Our results are consistent with the theoretical predictions of recent models on statistical discrimination and employer learning."
I've seen people claiming tall workers earn more due to superior intellect, confidence, or ambition. Clearly, that makes no sense because self-employed short people are not affected by the wage gap. If tall people were inherently superior, they should also do better on their own, by making smarter business decisions, being more creative, forming better connections, etc. They do not.
Trying to link positive personality traits to a physical trait like height is like doing the same for skin color. It's illogical and a blatant case of just-world hypothesis. Besides, if a worker was 5'0" and 100 lbs soaking wet, and the other was 6'5" with broad shoulders, who would people take more seriously at first glance? It's astounding how some people try to spin this as anything other than a physical issue. How far are they willing to go? If women were bigger and stronger than men on average, would sexism look the same? Speaking of which, unlike height, gender still has an effect on the self-employed. At least with this, you can make a case about how a woman's own mentality/choices matter. This is not the case with height.
The "confidence/ambition" thing is the salt in the wound. Essentially the excuse is, "you don't negotiate hard enough so it's your fault if you get shafted." They're basically saying you're not hungry enough for more money or a better position. This all becomes contradictory, when we remind ourselves of how people stereotype short men as being more aggressive and ambitious than taller men. Apparently it happens so often that society needed to coin the "Napoleon Complex." Yet when it's convenient, we're to pretend that short men are less hungry and more meek? If short men are less ambitious then why do short men get the stereotype of being more ambitious? I'm not even going to mention how ridiculous it is that's it's considered negative if a short man becomes ambitious, but positive if for example a poor person does the same. That's for a different discussion here.
More on height discrimination in business: