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U.S. no longer tallest country in world

America used to be the tallest country in the world.

From the days of the founding fathers right on through the industrial revolution and two world wars, Americans literally towered over people from other nations. In a land of boundless open spaces and limitless natural abundance, the young nation transformed its increasing wealth into human growth.

But just as it has in so many other arenas, America's predominance in height has faded. Americans reached a height plateau after World War II, gradually falling behind as the rest of the world continued growing taller.

By the time the baby boomers reached adulthood in the 1960s, most northern and western European countries had caught up with and surpassed the United States. Young adults in Japan and other prosperous Asian countries now stand nearly as tall as Americans do.

In the Netherlands, whose residents are the tallest in the world, the typical man now measures 6 feet, a good two inches more than his average American counterpart.

Does it really matter? Does being taller give the Dutch any advantage over say, the Chinese (men 5 feet, 4.9 inches; women 5 feet, 0.8 inches) or the Brazilians (men 5 feet, 6.5 inches; women 5 feet, 3 inches)?

Many economists would argue that it does matter, because height is correlated with numerous measures of a population's well-being. Tall people tend to be healthier and wealthier and live longer than short people. Some researchers have even suggested that tall people are more intelligent.

Link & Image: SeattleTimes
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