Have you ever noticed how some middle-aged people and young adults are taller than their older relatives? In several instances, it seems like older people are shorter. But even though science can attribute this difference in height to the shrinking of bones and some of the adverse effects of aging, some experts say this occurrence is no coincidence.  

According to them, the only reason we see so many short-old-people is because shorter people tend to live longer than taller people. This theory has been subject to much debate in the last few decades, and in this article – we help you separate facts from the noise.

The relationship between height and longevity has caused much confusion because different studies have pointed in different directions over the past many years.

Let us attempt to clear the confusion.

The Japanese Women Study

The World Health Organization states that Japanese women have the longest lives because they can live up to the age of 86! Coincidentally, these women are also considered short according to societal standards because their average height is 149.54 centimeters (4 feet 10 inches).

However, it is also true that people in the current age and time are a lot taller than their ancestors. Because of technological advancements and drastically better healthcare, our average life spans have improved, too. Information has become easily accessible, and nowadays, people know what is healthy and what isn’t very easily.

Differing Living Conditions

But even though we have increased standards for medicine and a vaccine can end a pandemic in a couple of months, we also have our own fair share of problems. In the last decade, the world has continuously seen the hottest year break records, and global warming has melted icebergs and destroyed habitats. This increase in temperature has also created an elevated water crisis, and several lives are lost because of problems like malnutrition.

Without boring you with the specifics – you may probably see why a debate over this topic has been impossible to conclude. Even though there’s some scientific research that can support the claim to give short people a sense of joy, others refute this myth easily. To keep the comparison fair and to get an accurate result from this evaluation, it’s essential that the case is balanced on both sides of the argument.

What that means is, while the environmental conditions of the past favor older people, our state-of-the-art medical advancements give us an edge. Under this consideration, the whole argument becomes a discussion of convenience, and finding a logical explanation becomes hard.

But apart from all the considerations we’ve mentioned that continue to keep the myth alive, some interesting things are worth acknowledging. For example, scientists have also noted that there’s an odd relationship between stress and height.

According to research, whenever we’re under stress, your height can be shorter compared to the time you’re happy. While this factor might seem irrelevant or worthy of ignorance, it’s also important to note that global recession, World Wars and Pandemics don’t necessarily make it easier to end the debate.

Just like other factors, even though reasons for mass public stress have reduced greatly in the last five decades, our comparison exceeds that time limit. Deciding who has an edge in the situation can be confusing since tall people have also existed in times of prosperity, and short people have felt the despair of stressful situations equally.

So is it easy to claim that short people live longer?

Well, not really.

In some instances (Japanese women), a direct relationship is visible, which makes us think that we’re getting somewhere. But other valid arguments refute this claim easily. On most occasions, there is no definite predictor for how long a person will live.

However, there is one mind-blowing theory that does a good job of putting the argument to rest. But its occurrence is so rare that considering it an answer to our burning questions doesn’t exactly seem fair.

The Methuselah Gene

According to experts who are just as curious to find an answer, the Methuselah Gene is a genetic mutation that can decrease the human body’s dependency on insulin. Because of this development, these people tend to be shorter than most people, and they also have a longer lifespan.

Apart from humans, the existence of this gene can also be noticed in animals. Just as it works for humans, the IGF1 growth hormone controls the size an animal might grow up to live. A difference in the amount of IGF1 in their bodies results in varying sizes. And just as for humans, this abundance or deficiency of this hormone can result in a differing lifespan.


So – do short people live longer?

While there might not be a definite answer to this question that continues to get increased attention, it is necessary to understand which factors you should focus on. Until we have an ideal situation with ideal test subjects – the debate lives on.   

So don’t fret! Try to eat healthy foods and don’t get sick too often, your height isn’t a factor that is completely under your control anyway.


I am a doctor and working as a research based Medical Writer and Editor for more than 8 years. Passion for writing and an excellent medical background are my strong points. I love to combine my two passions into a profession wherein I can write professional articles in the field of medicine, health, and nutrition.​