The idea of what’s considered short for a man depends upon culture, region, era of living, and just plain ol personal opinion. However, there is a common perception that influences our expectation of height, too. So given that, what is considered short for a man?
In the United States, for example, the average height for a man is 5 feet 9 inches. Thus, men are considered short at 5 feet 7 inches or under in the U.S. In most countries, men are considered short if they fall two to three inches below the mean, or average, male height for the region.
In this article, I’ll take an in depth approach at what’s considered short for men, focusing on the countries with the shortest men, factors that affect height for men in general, some common problems with being short, and even highlight some famous short men.
- What is Considered Short for a Man?
- What is Considered Short for Men in Other Countries?
- What Determines How Short a Man Will Be
- Can Diet And Exercise Help Men Not Be Short?
- When Is It A Problem For Men to be Short?
- The Takeaway for What Is Considered Short For A Man
What is Considered Short for a Man?
To think about what’s considered short for a man, you have to take into account averages for the area, then consider what is below that. And not just below that, but two or more inches (which is 5.08 cm or more) is standard deviation.
For the US, the average height of men is around 5 feet 9 inches. Men who fall just below this aren’t necessarily considered short, though. Since the norm for being short in any area is at least 2 inches below the average, men in the US who are 5 feet 7 or below are generally thought as short.
To put this in perspective, this means in the US if the man is:
- 5 feet 8 inches or over, they are not considered short.
- 5 feet 7 inches, they are considered short.
- 5 feet 3 inches, they are considered very short.
This common idea of two inches below the average before being considered short (and vice versa, two inches above the average to be considered tall) gives some leeway for men’s height before considered an extreme.
It also means for height to really become distinguishable, men will be quite more than the 2 inches, at least double. For instance, a man to be noticeably short in the US is probably less than 5 feet 4 inches tall.
To learn more about extremes in height (and other features), you might want to check out the new Guinness World Records 2021 book, which is conveniently available at Amazon.
You might also like to read: What Is Considered Tall For A Man? (Explained) or Can Short Parents Have A Tall Child? (Discover The Truth)
What is Considered Short for Men in Other Countries?
Even though worldwide it’s mostly accepted that 5 feet 7 inches and below is considered short for a male, the idea of what’s short for men is in reality dependent upon the country in question. For instance, while 5 feet 7 is thought short in the United States, this is tall in Peru.
Similarly, 5’3” is short for men in Germany, but it is quite average for Yemeni males.
To reiterate, the mean or average height that is considered short will change based on the specific country. In general, however, it’s been found that males of south and southeast Asia, Latin America, and east Africa have the shortest averages for heights, while Scandinavian and European countries have taller means (Source: The Lancet).
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Summary of What’s Short Around the World
Let’s look at some random examples of mean heights for males globally to get a clearer understanding.
- The Norway average height is 5 feet 9 inches, so he would be considered average globally and a Norwegian male who’s 5 feet 7 inches would be considered short.
- In Denmark the average height for males is 5 feet and 10 inches, so a Denmark man 5′ 8 would be short for that country.
- Palau, Eritrea, and Congo have average heights of 5 feet and 6 inches, but this would be considered short in the US for males, who average just over 5 feet 9 inches.
- Being 5’3″ is considered short for Indian men, since India’s male average height is 5 feet and 5 inches tall, or short, depending on how you look at it.
- Males in the Philippines average is 5 feet and 4 inches in height, so one would have to be 5’2″ there before being considered short.
It’s clear then that to determine if a male for an area is short, you need to know the average male height for the country.
A standard rule to follow is to take the male mean height for a region and subtract two inches to get the maximum height that would be considered “short.” It’s that simple.
The Shortest Countries For Men-RANKED
So now let’s take a look at the top countries in the world ranked by the shortest averages of height for men.
Listed below I’ve created a table displaying the top ten countries with the shortest mean heights for men. The data was taken from a long term, extensive study that followed 65 million subjects (it included both male and females, which I’ve also included for comparison sake) from age 5 to 19 in over 200 countries.
Given here are the mean heights of males at age 19, as well as the mean heights of women for comparison living in the same region.
|Country|| Average Height |
| Average Height of Women |
|1||Timor-Leste||63.04 in |
| 60.12 in |
|2||Laos||64.09 in |
| 60.28 in |
|3||Solomon Islands||64.20 in |
| 61.73 in |
|4||Papua New Guinea||64.21 in |
| 61.77 in |
|5||Mozambique|| 64.69 in |
|61.19 in |
|6||Guatemala||64.71 in |
|7||Nepal|| 64.71 in |
|59.99 in |
|8||Yemen|| 64.73 in |
|60.93 in |
|9||Bangladesh||64.99 in |
| 59.99 in |
|10||Madagascar||65.02 in |
| 60.30 in |
To be honest, when looking at the number one and the number ten shortest averages of males, it’s only a difference of less than 2 inches (1.98 inches to be exact), so in the big picture, short is short.
But when considering the shortest average (Timor-Leste at 5 feet 3 inches) and the tallest average (the Netherlands at 6’3″), there’s a disparity of over a foot (12 plus inches). That’s quite a difference, very noticeable if standing side by side.
If these are the mean heights in the shortest countries in the world, then what would be considered short for men in those countries?
What is considered short for men in the following countries…
- Timor-Leste – 61 inches (5’1″)
- Laos – 62 inches (5’2″)
- Solomon Island – 62 inches (5’2″)
- Papua New Guinea – 62 inches (5’2″)
- Mozambique – 62 inches (5’2″)
- Guatemala – 62 inches (5’2″)
- Nepal – 62 inches (5’2″)
- Yemen – 62 inches (5’2″)
- Bangladesh – 62 inches (5’2″)
- Madagascar – 63 inches (5’3″)
Here’s a related article on men’s height: Can Sons Be Shorter Than Their Mothers? (Explained) or What Is Considered Tall For A Woman? (Explained)
The Shortest Man Ever In The World
There have been some notable short men in history. From presidents to prime ministers to famous musicians, some are as known for their short stature as their noteworthy accomplishments.
- Napoleon Bonaparte is well-known as a short military leader. But according to History.Com, he was just an inch below the average French men of the time, at 5’5″.
- Mahatma Gandhi was recorded at 5’4″, which is short globally. But when compared to average Indian males (5’5″), he’s right in line.
- 80s popular singer/performer, Prince, stood at a diminutive 5 feet 2 inches, though it wasn’t always visible since he frequently wore high heeled shoes.
- Pablo Picasso, known for his bold works of art, stood at 5 feet and 4 inches.
- Ludwig van Beethoven was one of the most influential composers of all time, and also 5’3″.
But the title of shortest recorded mobile man currently goes to DJ Edward “Nino” Hernandez of Bogota, Colombia since he is able to walk, according to Guinness World Records. Junrey Balawing of the Philippines at 59.93 centimeters (or just under 2 feet) is the record holder overall, but unfortunately he’s not able to move or stand on his own.
What Determines How Short a Man Will Be
It’s widely accepted by medical professionals and scientific experts that genetics set the bar for height. However, it’s also agreed that environmental factors play a role, too. Thus, things like nutrition and health are also determinants in order to maximum one’s height potential.
According to the Mayo Clinic, there are a couple of ways parents can predict a son’s height. For instance, they can double his height at age two to predict his adult height.
Another method involves a mathematical formula in which the biological mother and father’s heights are added together plus 5 inches (13 centimeters) for boys and then finally, divided by two.
To evaluate the accuracy of the math methods, I tried it with my three sons who have all reached the age of expectancy for their full height.
My husband’s height is 6 feet 1 inch (73 inches or 185.42 cm) and my height is 5 feet 1 inch (61 inches or 154.94 cm). When you put our heights together and add the additional portion, it comes to 139 inches (353.06 cm). Then, after dividing by 2, our sons’ height should come to 69.5 inches (176.53 cm).
So after doing the math, how does it hold up? Pretty good, actually, though not quite exact. Below I’ve created a table showing the data and results.
|Brandon||70 inches||.5 inches over|
|Ronin||70 inches||.5 inches over|
|Ethan||68.5 inches||1 inch under|
So putting all of this together, we can assume a few things. One is that where our parents are from will have some play into our height expectations, providing a general range of minimum and maximum.
It’s also quite possible, though, for kids to exceed parents’ height, or in fact, the opposite of that.
Again, there are environmental factors to consider, as well as the overall health of each individual. An approximate idea of how short (or tall) a son will be takes into account the parents’ heights, the region he lives in, and his individual health and well-being.
Can Diet And Exercise Help Men Not Be Short?
The answer here will fly in the face of many websites touting different techniques to increase height in men and women. The answer here comes with two very important distinctions. What is a man’s genetic height ceiling and what is the diet and physical fitness levels he enjoys in formative years?
Exercise can help a man reach his predetermined height potential set by genetics, but it cannot aid a man in surpassing this limitation. Diet and exercise are essential components to a healthy body, which in turn aides in reaching full height capabilities. But genetics determine the limits.
Healthy lifestyles, especially in a boy’s formative years up to age 21, can be crucial in reaching full potential height.
Yet, don’t be fooled by false claims. No amount of exercise can add one centimeter or inch to this predetermined outcome. If your parent’s gifted you with genetics predisposing you to be 5’2″, then that is as tall as exercise and diet can help you reach. If your family’s genetics allow you to be taller, diet and exercise can help you reach the ‘tall’ status.
Diet nor exercise can help you become taller than your body was designed to be.
When Is It A Problem For Men to be Short?
Even though most men would not choose to be short, it’s not generally a huge issue, especially if it’s just a few inches less than average. The major issues arise when ‘short’ is more of an extreme, being five inches or more in difference from the average.
Besides social awkwardness or diminished self-esteem, there are other problems short men face.
- Problems with fitting into furniture
- Problems driving vehicles because the steering wheel and gas/brake pedals are not accommodating for less than average height people
- Neck and shoulder/back pains from regularly looking up or adjusting for height
- Expense of tailoring clothes that commonly don’t fit off the rack
- Weight gain due to height disparity
It is also common for short men to face discrimination in the workplace. Taller men are more likely to be in positions of power and to earn more money, according to this Australian study. And this is quite problematic for those men it affects!
I recommend this article for comparison: What Is Considered Tall For A Man? (Explained)
Are Men Getting Shorter in the US?
No, even though it may seem so to some, men are not getting shorter in the US or even around the world. In fact, the average height for US men has increased about two inches in the past 100 years, which is actually a bit lower than the rate worldwide. But regardless, the rate shows males getting taller.
One important note about the united states and height averages being on a slower increase than other countries. One major influence on the average height in the United states specifically for men is the amount of immigration from countries with much lower mean heights than the average American male.
The world’s general height increase is mostly related to improved health and nutrition, as well as lifestyle, making males (and females) taller than their ancestors. The rates are even better worldwide since those places have seen an even better improvement of quality of life, given it had been lower to start with.
As well, immigration to the US has grown over the years to include more males of shorter averages, creating a slight slow down in the overall US rate of growth.
Is Being Short in Hollywood a Problem?
As for Hollywood, it’s widely considered that male leads are above average in height. But this is not necessarily the case.
According to NPR, average actors are 5 feet 10 inches tall (whereas their female counterparts average 5 feet 5 inches in height). This makes actors just slightly above average US males, so not necessarily tall by any means, dispelling some common-held myths.
However, being that most actors are average (or an inch above) in height, being short as an actor is not so common. But again, it’s not impossible for male leads to be less than average in height. Considering modern technology and tricks of cameras, it’s somewhat easy to provide height illusions if the male ‘star’ is worth the part!
Some popular less than average height (aka short) actors:
- Tom Cruise at 5 feet 7 inches (1.73 m)
- James McAvoy at 5 feet 7 inches (1.73 m)
- Martin Freeman at 5 feet 6 inches
- Jet Li at 5 feet 6 inches
- Jack Black at 5 feet 6 inches
- Dustin Hoffman at 5 feet 5 inches
- Johnny Galecki at 5 feet 5 inches
- Daniel Radcliffe at 5 feet 5 inches
- Jason Alexander at 5 feet 4 inches
- Kevin Hart at 5 feet 3 inches
The Takeaway for What Is Considered Short For A Man
To summarize, what is considered short for males is dependent upon the country where he lives. What’s short in Finland is not so short in China, for instance.
As well, to understand what is thought of as short, one must first know the average male height of the region. This is because ‘short’ is two inches below average. Once you know the average, just simply subtract two and then, you’ll have an idea of what’s considered ‘short.’
For further reading: What Is Considered Tall For A Woman? (Explained)