The news: If you've been having trouble finding a male partner, here is a piece of advice: Give shorter men a chance.
That's not just glib advice. According to a new working paper coming out of New York University, short men might get married later in life, but they tend to have longer, more stable marriages.
For the sociological study (which has yet to be peer reviewed) researchers analyzed data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics and identified 3,033 heterosexual couples. They then put the men into three categories: short (below 5'6"), average (5'6" to 6'1") and tall (above 6'1").
The result: "One of the largest contributions of this study is to demonstrate that short men tend to be in more stable marriages than average and tall men. This is likely a function of the marriage entry process, as we also find that short men marry at lower rates," the study's authors wrote.
While the researchers were not able to pinpoint a definite cause for this trend, they posited that short men might have a harder time attracting women, and that once they married, they might make more of an effort to keep the marriage going than tall men. Though this is almost purely speculative and assumes being short is some sort of defect that must be made up for in other ways, and that being tall could somehow excuse poor relationship behavior.
Nevertheless, this theory is supported by the another of the study's discoveries: Short men tend to do more housework (8 hours and 28 minutes per week) than average men (7 hours 38 minutes) and tall men (7 hours 30 minutes). Short men also tended to be older, more educated and more successful than their wives (with 78% out-earning their partners, as opposed to 71% of tall men and 69% of average men).
What does this mean? The study's findings are still very preliminary, and what the researchers have uncovered is correlation without definitive causation. Still, they have identified an interesting trend in which short men seem to contribute more to a marriage.
"On the income side, if you think of marriage as a market and tallness as a valuable commodity, short men 'make up' for lacking it by earning more money," Quartz's Max Nisen explains.
"The relationship exchange model is an oversimplification, and discounts the agency of people in general and women in particular — but it illustrates an interesting long-term trend. The data seems to show a lasting influence of historical gender power imbalance, and the persistence of height-hierarchy among men."
For women who like short men — who have been found to be at a statistical disadvantage when it comes to attracting a heterosexual mate — this is all good news. The existing power structure paradigm may have led you to consider tall men as powerful and successful, but short men might end up being more considerate, rewarding partners in the long run.