Why Are [Some] Mexicans Short?

Close up map of Mexico

Mexicans are on average shorter than other people in the world.  Mexicans are a range of heights with people in Northern Mexico noticeably taller. Mexico like the U.S. is a big melting pot. The height of Mexicans is influenced by different factors, including genetics (shorter height is more helpful in a warmer climate), diet, and environmental conditions.  

The Tall and Short of Mexican Dating 

A Mexican writer recently praised men in her country for openly dating women taller than them.  This is particularly notable because Mexican men are short:

Mexicans are not known for their tall stature. The average height for males in Mexico is between 5 feet, 4 inches and 5 feet, 7 inches, depending on where you are; very generally speaking, those with more prominent European ancestry tend to be taller. For women, the average height is 5 feet, 2 inches.

There is a general belief that Mexicans are of short stature.  Is this true?  And, if true, what are the reasons?  We learned why Asians are short and why Scandinavian women are tall.  

What about our neighbors to the south?

Are Mexicans Shorter?  

Many people believe that Scandinavian women are very tall.  Some are.  It turned out that Polish people are taller on average than those in Sweden.  Our beliefs are sometimes mistaken.  

Mexicans are shorter on average than those from other countries.  Mexico is the 131st in ranking height-wise.  We should put this in context because the average Mexican is only about an inch shorter than the world average.  Nonetheless, many Mexicans are shorter.  

Mexican men are about three inches shorter than men in the United States while Mexican women are about two inches shorter.  Canadians are a bit taller than Americans.  Meanwhile, people in certain Latin American countries, such as Guatemala, are shorter than Mexico. 

So, yes, Mexicans are shorter.  But, there is a range of heights found in Mexico.  

Mexicans Are A Diverse Group 

Mexico is a country.  Mexicans are an ethnic group, which is a group of people with a common racial, national, tribal, religious, linguistic, or cultural origin or background.  

Mexico has over 130 million people.  They are a broad mixture, just like people in the United States are a big melting pot.  Mexicans are a mix of indigenous groups (the original Native American inhabitants),  Europeans, and Africans.  

The original residents of Mexico were descendants of Asians who migrated thousands of years ago.  They crossed over from Asia and populated North and South America.  As you recall, Asians of short stature and these were their descendants.

The Spanish (Columbus and all that) settled Mexico in the 1500s.  They brought over African slaves.  Mexico became a melting pot of Europeans, Native Americans, and Africans.  

What Do Genes Tell Us? 

Genetics is an important reason people have a range of different bodily traits such as height, eye color, and a whole lot more.  Genes are passed along for many generations when a body trait is useful to the environment.  The “gene pool” is also mixed by migration and intermarriage.  

There is no specific “Mexican gene.”  Mexicans have a diverse gene pool, leading to differences in many different body traits.  This helps explain the ranges of heights in the country.  

Smaller body types are less likely to be overwhelmed by the heat.  Mexico has a warm climate. Spain and many parts of Africa also have warm climates.  A shorter stature would provide certain genetic value to people who live in Mexico.  This is one reason Mexicans are shorter.  

Short stature does not by itself mean a person is unhealthy or stunted in development.  Sometimes, being shorter might even be beneficial to your health.   

North vs. South Mexico

A significant split occurs height-wise between Mexicans in the north and the south.  There can be as much as four inches (10cm) difference.  People in northern Mexico tend to be taller.  

The original residents of Mexico are the shortest while people of a mixed race (mestizos) are next, and then those with European origins.  There are more European and mestizos in the northern region of Mexico.  This also helps explain why Mexicans there are taller.  


Our diet also influences height. Children with poor diets can suffer stunted growth, even if they have the potential to grow taller. The increase in the availability of protein-rich foods and better health care has led to increases in height, including in the United States.  

The staple agricultural-based diet of the indigenous people of Mexico has less protein. Diet also helps explain why people in Spain are shorter, if not as short as the indigenous people of Mexico.  Also, Southern Europeans such as Italians.  Do you see a trend forming?  

Do Italians Really Have a Monopoly on Love? Separating Fact from Fiction

Other Influences 

Also, many people in Mexico overall have a poor diet and suffer from malnutrition.  Poor hygiene and other problems in an economically deprived community also lead to stunted growth.   

Conditions closer to the United States, in Northern Mexico, are better.  And, there is more likely to be intermarriage with taller Americans. As one summary notes:

The people of Chihuahua and other border areas are taller because of the sanitary and environmental conditions in which they grow, and also because there is differential miscegenation with the population of the United States.

A Range of Reasons 

When we try to understand why people are certain personalities or do certain things, we usually find out that things are complicated.  The same is true about personal bodily traits.

Mexicans are short for a range of reasons, including genetic factors, environmental conditions, health, and diet.  This is also why our opening observer of Mexican dating told us that there was a range of heights.  And, how the average height is rising some in recent years.  

Either way, I appreciate the open-minded nature of Mexican dating habits.

Teach and Thrive

A Bronx, NY veteran high school social studies teacher who has learned most of what she has learned through trial and error and error and error.... and wants to save others that pain.