Beauty impacts hiring, salaries and profits, economist finds

Aug 17, 2011

The best looking people earn an extra $250,000, on average, during their careers than the least attractive people and are more likely to remain employed, get promoted and even secure loans, according to a new book by University of Texas at Austin economist Daniel Hamermesh.

The most comprehensive study to date of the issue, "Beauty Pays" strives to quantify the of beauty — a powerful but often-ignored driver of personal earning power and corporate profits.

"In economic terms, beauty is scarce. People distinguish themselves and pay attention to beauty," Hamermesh says. "Most of us want to look better so we can make more money. Companies realize that hiring better-looking people helps in various ways. In every market, whether it’s jobs or marriage, beauty matters."

A past president of the Society of Labor Economists and a research associate with the National Bureau of Economic Research, Hamermesh has won multiple teaching awards from University of Texas at Austin students, parents and administrators. He teaches one of the largest courses on campus, a 550-student introduction to economics for undergraduates.

He is considered the dean of the economics of beauty by such colleagues as economic journalist Stephen Dubner, co- author of the best-selling book "Freakonomics."

In "Beauty Pays," Hamermesh draws from his own research and dozens of other studies from around the world. The research often includes ratings of individuals' looks and demonstrates that people generally agree on who is good-looking. In other words, they behold beauty similarly.

His findings include:

• Adjusting for education and other factors, the best-looking one-third of the population makes 5 percent more money than average-looking people and 10 to 12 percent more than the worst-looking people.
impacts earnings more significantly for men in the labor market than women, in part because women still have more options to leave the workforce.
• Good-looking women generally marry higher earning men. Such economic trends contribute to better looking people reporting that they are happier.

With growing discussion among some Western governments about using non-traditional measures, such as national happiness, to gauge economic wellbeing, Hamermesh's book suggests these measures are beyond the control of public or corporate policy and would be limited in their effectiveness.

He also says it's silly to judge people based on their looks, but that such attitudes are an economic reality that can't be ignored. In many cases, companies are simply responding to the demands of the market in which customers want to work with better looking people.

But those people who aren't good looking can still succeed, Hamermesh says.

"Take advantage of other things: brains, brawn, personality," he says. "This is the economic theory of 'comparative advantage.' You work off the things you're good at and if looks isn't one of them, you try to de-stress that."

Explore further: Local education politics 'far from dead'

Provided by News from The University of Texas at Austin

5 /5 (1 vote)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Economists say beautiful people are happier

Mar 30, 2011

( -- 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 ...

Recommended for you

Local education politics 'far from dead'

53 minutes ago

Teach for America, known for recruiting teachers, is also setting its sights on capturing school board seats across the nation. Surprisingly, however, political candidates from the program aren't just pushing ...

First grade reading suffers in segregated schools

1 hour ago

A groundbreaking study from the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute (FPG) has found that African-American students in first grade experience smaller gains in reading when they attend segregated schools—but the ...

Why aren't consumers buying remanufactured products?

3 hours ago

Firms looking to increase market share of remanufactured consumer products will have to overcome a big barrier to do so, according to a recent study from the Penn State Smeal College of Business. Findings from faculty members ...

Expecting to teach enhances learning, recall

3 hours ago

People learn better and recall more when given the impression that they will soon have to teach newly acquired material to someone else, suggests new research from Washington University in St. Louis.

Understanding the economics of human trafficking

Jul 28, 2014

Although Europe is one of the strictest regions in the world when it comes to guaranteeing the respect of human rights, the number of people trafficked to or within the EU still amounts to several hundred ...

User comments : 0