The concept of “tall” can be a somewhat vague and muddy concept, especially since it depends so much on who else is in the community. Even a shorter man could be considered tall if he is surrounded by others who are shorter—which leads to the obvious question: what exactly is considered tall for a man?
In the United States, men are generally considered tall if they are 5’11” or taller, and the average height for men is 5’9”. The conception of “tall” changes by country, but if a man is 2-3 inches taller than the average height for men in his country then he is typically seen as tall by his culture.
Let’s take a closer look at what is considered tall for a man, the different height averages in various countries, and some of the main factors that will determine how tall a man is throughout his life.
- What is Considered Tall for a Man?
- What’s Considered Tall for Men in Other Countries?
- What Determines How Tall a Man Will Be?
- When Can Being Tall Become a Problem for Men?
- Are Men Getting Taller in America?
- What is Considered Tall for Men Takeaway…
What is Considered Tall for a Man?
The average height for men in the United States is 5 feet and 9 inches. Men can be a little above this height before they are considered tall. In general, once a man reaches 5 feet 11 inches or higher, they are considered tall in the United States.
This means if the man is:
- 5 feet 11 inches or taller, they are considered tall.
- 5 feet 7 inches or smaller, they are considered short
- 6 feet 3 inches, they are considered very tall.
This allows a man to be within two inches above or below the average before they are considered short or tall. However, for the height to be really noticeable, men will need to be over 6 feet tall in the US. Once a man hits 6’3” then he begins to be seen as exceptionally tall.
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What’s Considered Tall for Men in Other Countries?
Being tall will mean something different in each country. While 6 feet would be considered tall in America, this is just average height in the Netherlands.
Likewise, 5’11” is the lower end of being considered tall in the US, but is just average height in Australia and Germany.
The average height that is considered tall changes based on the country you are looking at. Most Scandinavian and European countries have taller average heights, while Asian and Pacific Islander countries have a shorter average height.
Overview Of What Is Tall In Countries Around The World
Here’s just some examples of average heights for men around the world:
- The Netherlands average height is 6 feet, so a man 6’2” would be considered tall
- United Kingdom and Canada average height is 5 feet and 10 inches, so a man 6’ tall would be tall
- China, Iran, and Brazil have average heights of 5 feet and 8 inches, meaning an average size man in the US (5’11”) would be considered tall
- India average height is 5 feet and 5 inches
- Philippines average height is 5 feet and 4 inches
As you can clearly see, to figure out whether someone is tall you have to know what the average height is in the country they are from.
A good rule of thumb is to take the average male height for a country and add 2-3 inches to get the minimum height that would be considered “tall.”
The Tallest Countries For Men In The World – Ranked
Let’s look at the top countries in the world rated by the height for men. These will be average heights for men which can be a determining factor for boys born into these cultures. Genetic markers are passed from parents to children and these come from their ancestors, usually from the region.
The numbers below are from a study that projected the heights of 19 year olds by country using data from 65 million people in over 200 countries. These are the average heights of men and the average heights overall for people living in these regions.
|Country||Average Height For Men||Average Height Overall|
|Netherlands||183.8 cm||177.1 cm|
|Montenegro||183.3 cm||176.6 cm|
|Estonia||182.8 cm||175.7 cm|
|Bosnia-Herzegovina||182.5 cm||175.0 cm|
|Iceland||182.1 cm||175.5 cm|
|Denmark||181.9 cm||175.7 cm|
|Latvia||181.2 cm||175.0 cm|
|Czech Republic||181.2 cm||174.6 cm|
|Slovenia||181.0 cm||174.1 cm|
|Slovakia||181.0 cm||174.0 cm|
|Ukraine||181.0 cm||173.8 cm|
|Croatia||180.8 cm||173.8 cm|
|Serbia||180.7 cm||174.5 cm|
|Lithuania||180.7 cm||174.1 cm|
|Poland||180.7 cm||173.2 cm|
|Finland||180.6 cm||173.5 cm|
|Sweden||180.5 cm||173.6 cm|
|Norway||180.5 cm||173.4 cm|
|Germany||180.3 cm||173.2 cm|
|Dominica||180.2 cm||173.5 cm|
There really isn’t a huge difference when looking at the tallest vs the shortest average height for men. Sure if you were to stand one beside the other, it would be noticeable, but in the grand scheme of things it is a relatively small difference. Here is a chart that shows the 6 tallest countries by average height for men compared to the 6 shortest.
What all of this tells us is that where are parents are from determines the gene pool that determines the upper and lower limits of our height. This then plays a major role when we have kids ourselves.
Many want to know if they are short, can their sons grow taller then they are. The fact is that they can. Yet it is not as simple as looking at the heights of ancestors. Sometimes they inherent gene traits that skip several generations. This can lead them to be shorter or taller than you are.
A general idea of how tall a boy will grow can be found by looking at the average height of the cultures and countries of his ancestors.
What Determines How Tall a Man Will Be?
While the average man in America is 5 feet 9 inches, this is, as implied, just the average height of all the men in the country. There are different factors that influence how tall an individual man will be.
Here’s the most important factors that determine a man’s height:
- Nutrition in childhood, especially at younger ages
- Genetics and ethnic background
- Hormones and other bodily factors, especially around puberty
- Physical health when growing
Eating well and being physically active can help a man be a little taller. The number one factor that will influence a man’s height in today’s world is going to be their genetics. Their family and ethnic background will have heavy influences on their genetic height potential.
To predict your child’s expected height, there are many apps and online calculators you can try. One source I recommend is Height Calculator.
Before modern times, the number one factor in a person’s height was their nutrition. This didn’t change the potential height that a child could reach, but their actual height.
For most of human history, food was scarce and not every child got enough to ensure they reached their maximum growth potential. This growth potential is set by the genes they inherit.
When Can Being Tall Become a Problem for Men?
Most men typically wish they were taller, but few consider the problems that actually come with being exceptionally tall. These difficulties are not simply about a centimeter or inch over the average.
Here we are talking about those at the upper end of the spectrum.
Here’s just a few downsides of being very tall for your culture:
- Difficult to find fitted clothing: This seems mundane at first, but it quickly becomes a real thorn in your side. Many very tall men end up with overly loose clothing from “big and tall” stores or needing custom tailored clothing.
- Back and neck issues: an extremely common but rarely talked about problem in taller men and women. This is especially prevalent in countries with average heights already close to 6’. Once you get past 6’ in height, back and neck issues become more and more prevalent due to the advanced length and size of the spine supporting all the weight.
- Things aren’t designed for you: another obvious issue that is usually dismissed, going about your day to day in a world that was not designed with you in mind can be exhausting. Not being able to fit in cars, buses, doorways, and other spaces can take a toll.
In reality, the grass can always be greener on the other side. Shorter men often wish they were taller for social reasons, but plenty of very tall men would give their height up if it meant getting rid of their ever-increasing back and neck pain that is much less common in shorter men.
Those who are athletically minded will also learn that muscle length and strength in moving heavy objects also make it harder on taller men. Bodybuilders know this first hand.
It is much easier to build bulky muscle for the athletic look with shorter limbs and trunks. This makes it easier for shorter men to attain this look than taller men. If a bulky athletic look is something prized, shorter men will have an easier go of it.
Who Was the Tallest Man that Ever Lived?
It is believed that the tallest man ever came from Alton, Illinois. His name was Robert Pershing Wadlow, and he was believed to be 8 feet 11.1 inches tall. The current tallest male right now is 8 feet 2.8 inches tall.
While being over 6 feet 3 inches is rare, at least in America, there are many tall people throughout time that have come close to this height as well. Some of the tallest people over the past 100 years includes:
- Robert Wadlow from the United States was 272 cm. tall (8’11)
- John F. Carroll from the United States was 263 cm. tall (8’7.5)
- Sultan Kosen from Turkey was 236 cm. tall (7’9)
- Bernard Coyne from the United States was 248 cm tall (8’1)
- XI Shun from China was 236 cm. tall (7’9)
While men across the world are getting taller, no one has been able to beat the height record of Robert Wadlow that was set in 1940, and hopefully nobody ever will.
Being as tall as these people is usually the result of a genetic or other physical growth disorder, such as gigantism. It’s not a fun experience and brings myriads of health issues, including a drastically reduced lifespan.
Are Men Getting Taller in America?
About ten years ago, the average height of men in America was 69.3 inches tall. A century ago, the average height was 67 inches. While this seems to point to a growth rate of over 2 inches in that time, compared to other nations, the rate of growth in America is actually slowing down.
However, this does not mean that the average American male is starting to shrink, but rather that men in other nations are just catching up. It also speaks to the immigration levels in the United States as men from other ‘shorter’ nations make their homes in America.
So, largely, heights in America have started to stabilize compared to other countries. The average male height in the United States is five feet nine inches and it has stayed fairly steady for the past several decades. This is the equalizing of shorter stature men immigrating and nutrition standards rising to allow full height potentials.
The average height in the US is expected to grow slightly in the coming decades, but don’t expect an explosion. It is more than likely coming in small increments.
What is Considered Tall for Men Takeaway…
The average height is different in each country, which means that what is considered tall in every country will be different as well. If your height is not where you would like it to be, it may be due to your ancestry and where you come from.
While many men wish they were taller, it’s important to take a second to realize that it comes with problems of its own, including health issues. If you really want to feel tall, just go visit a country with a lower average height and enjoy the benefits of height without the downsides of being extremely tall!
For further related reading, check out my article, Can Sons Be Shorter Than Their Mothers? (Explained) or the readings linked below.