Male organ and economic growth: does size matter?

By: Tatu Westling


This paper explores the link between economic development and penile length between 1960 and 1985. It estimates an augmented Solow model utilizing the Mankiw-Romer-Weil 121 country dataset. The size of male organ is found to have an inverse U-shaped relationship with the level of GDP in 1985. It can alone explain over 15% of the variation in GDP. The GDP maximizing size is around 13.5 centimetres, and a collapse in economic development is identified as the size of male organ exceeds 16 centimetres. Economic growth between 1960 and 1985 is negatively associated with the size of male organ, and it alone explains 20% of the variation in GDP growth. With due reservations it is also found to be more important determinant of GDP growth than country’s political regime type. Controlling for male organ slows convergence and mitigates the negative effect of population growth on economic development slightly. Although all evidence is suggestive at this stage, the `male organ hypothesis’ put forward here is robust to exhaustive set of controls and rests on surprisingly strong correlations.
Keywords: Economic growth; development; male organ; penile length; Solow model
JEL: O47

Although it compares economic development in 1960 vs 1985, this is not strictly a historical piece. Hence why it was placed at the bottom of the report. However, it is included in the report and blog as it follows from the previous discussion on the blog relating to internal vs external consistency. The article has also attracted attention in the popular press:

Westling argues, I think correctly, that physical features can be an interesting measure of development of non-oil producing countries. His choice of the male organ is justified as: “it represents a well defined and concrete object. Second, it is relatively easy to measure (erect length is used). Third, it is largely free from cultural connotations that might hound complex institutional variables..’. I can see that economic development can associate, enhance or even feedback with changes in physical features. For instance, height. But I find the inverse causation hard to follow. I think this is a case of good correlation but very doubtful causality. Westling readily acknowledges that much: “the exact channel through which these penile-effects take place remains unclear.”

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About bbatiz

I have edited NEP-HIS since 1999 and its blog in 2010. My background is economics and business history. I am currently at Northumbria University (Newcastle) and my research interests are broadly in applications of computer technology, retail banking and the cashless society.

3 thoughts on “Male organ and economic growth: does size matter?

  1. bbb

    I can’t believe you are actually taking this at face value. This is an obvious (and somewhat juvenile) attack at cross-country growth regressions. Similar in spirit to this paper by Heckman:

    Click to access dp3636.pdf

  2. bbatiz Post author

    I knew there was a risk in selecting this paper for the report and the blog. I have had a number of private comments, some well meaning and some not faltering. I do appreciate you have made yours public.

    My chief aim when taking this piece at face value was that although, as you point out, it is fundamentally flawed; it is receiving so much attention.

    Impact is such an arguable criterion see

    Yet high-impact and (ultimately) little research value is a real potential outcome from the drive to greater “accountability” that is currently permeating down to academics in several parts of the world.

    I am not desperate to draw attention to the blog. I do take that this post might have offended people (for a host of different reasons). For that I apologise. Now I’ve made my point and will move on.

    PS The reply from the author


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