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Beauty and the Labor Market

Daniel S. Hamermesh and Jeff E. Biddle
The American Economic Review
Vol. 84, No. 5 (Dec., 1994), pp. 1174-1194
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2117767
Page Count: 21
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Beauty and the Labor Market
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Abstract

We examine the impact of looks on earnings using interviewers' ratings of respondents' physical appearance. Plain people earn less than average-looking people, who earn less than the good-looking. The plainness penalty is 5-10 percent, slightly larger than the beauty premium. Effects for men are at least as great as for women. Unattractive women have lower labor-force participation rates and marry men with less human capital. Better-looking people sort into occupations where beauty may be more productive; but the impact of individuals' looks is mostly independent of occupation, suggesting the existence of pure employer discrimination.

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