# Why are boys usually taller than girls?

Boys and girls are actually about the same height on average, until they reach the age of 12 or 13. After that age, girls growth starts to level off. Boys continue growing until age 17 or 18.

Boys and girls grow about two inches per year until they reach puberty. Then they each have a growth spurt that lasts a year or two. During the growth spurts, boys grow a little faster than girls. Girls reach puberty (on average) about a year before boys do. Girls also end puberty earlier than boys.

The differences in when they reach puberty, and how fast they grow during it, and how long puberty lasts, are what make boys average about 5 inches taller than girls by the time they stop growing.

To estimate how tall you will be when you are fully grown, you can use the knowledge that men are on average 5 inches taller than women. If you are a girl, subtract 5 inches from your father’s height. Then add your mother’s height, and then divide by two. This will give you the average height your parents would have if they were both women.

If you are a boy, add 5 inches to your mother’s height, then add your father’s height, and divide by two. This gives you the average height your parents would be if they were both men.

The problem with these estimates is that they will only let you guess your height within about 4 inches. That is a lot of variation.

There is another way to estimate your adult height that indicates just how unreliable height estimation is. Remember that boys and girls grow at about the same rate until puberty, and that there is about a 5 inch difference on average between men and women’s height. If you know how tall you were when you were two years old, you can double that to estimate your adult height.

Notice that this method does not ask whether you are a boy or a girl. So it may easily be 5 inches off.

By Simon Quellen Field

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