Economists say beautiful people are happier

Mar 30, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Good-looking people are generally happier than their plain looking or unattractive counterparts, largely because of the higher salaries, other economic benefits and more successful spouses that come with beauty, according to new research from economists at The University of Texas at Austin.

This holds true for both men and women and across different cultures, authors Daniel Hamermesh and Jason Abrevaya report in their paper "'Beauty is the Promise of Happiness'?," [PDF] which they are releasing to economists this week. The paper is posted at http://ftp.iza.org/dp5600.pdf [PDF], the Web site for the German-based Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

"Personal beauty raises ," says Hamermesh. "The majority of beauty's effect on happiness works through its impact on economic outcomes."

In previous research, Hamermesh has established that better-looking people generally earn more money and marry better-looking and higher earning spouses than others. His upcoming work, Beauty Pays: Why Attractive People are More Successful, will be released this summer by Princeton University Press.

The current study suggests these indirect, account for at least half of the additional happiness that good-looking people report. Beauty affects women's happiness more directly than men's.

The findings come as some and economists advocate for countries to begin measuring national happiness alongside their economic productivity. The authors suggest that may not be a worthwhile measurement.

"While there are many good reasons to avoid combining measures with measures of subjective well being," they write, "our discussion showing the importance of this one, essentially immutable determinant of happiness (beauty) suggests that focusing on creating a happier society may not be fruitful."

The economists analyzed data from five surveys conducted by in the U.S., Canada, Germany and Britain. These surveys asked more than 25,000 thousand participants about their levels of happiness and also either required an interviewer to rate participants' attractiveness or evaluate their beauty from their pictures.

The top 15 percent of people ranked by looks are over 10 percent happier than people ranked in the bottom 10 percent of looks, researchers say.

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Provided by News from The University of Texas at Austin

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User comments : 3

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Doug_Huffman
not rated yet Mar 30, 2011
Ignorance is bliss, bliss is ignorance. Is blond/e beautiful?
JRDarby
not rated yet Mar 30, 2011
Blond/e is a symbol, just like beauty. Blond/e shows youth, a trait desirable to men in women; beauty shows good genes. Men don't love beautiful women because they're beautiful: they love them because they push the right buttons in their limbic systems.

All this goes to say that those born with the right genes have a better shot at life.
alanborky
not rated yet Apr 03, 2011
This's all about assumptions.

First, salary: a little while back there was report about people complaining how unfair life was because they worked so hard and only earned $4 million a year whereas Bill Gates' billions were increasing every day without him doing a thing to deserve it.

Next, beauty: you only have to personally know a few of these 'beautiful people' to know how deeply unhappy they are, spending all day in front of the mirror in fear of signs of ageing, (ecstatic when they think they look good, grief stricken when their hair's having a 'bad day'), endlessly surfing the net for means to preserve their beauty, (as well as secretly searching for information on when they should commit to plastic surgery programs), endlessly soliciting compliments to boost their endlessly flagging self-esteem, endlessly jostling to present their face's best side, to be as near as possible to, or as far as possible from, someone whose beauty they feel will compliment or distract from their own

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