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Dress for Success — Does Primping Pay?

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  • Daniel S. Hamermesh
  • Xin Meng
  • Junsen Zhang

Abstract

A unique survey of Shanghai residents in 1996 that combined labor-market information, appraisals of respondents' beauty, and household expenditures allows us to examine the relative magnitudes of the investment and consumption components of women's spending on beauty-enhancing goods and services. We find that beauty raises women's earnings (and to a lesser extent, men's) adjusted for a wide range of controls. Additional spending on clothing and cosmetics has a generally positive but decreasing marginal impact on a woman's perceived beauty. The relative sizes of these effects demonstrate that such purchases pay back at most 10 percent of each unit of expenditure in the form of higher earnings. Most such spending represents consumption.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 7167.

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Date of creation: Jun 1999
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Publication status: published as Labour Economics, Vol. 9, no. 3 (July 2002): 361-373
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7167

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  1. Eric A. Hanushek, 1996. "Measuring Investment in Education," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(4), pages 9-30, Fall.
  2. Lundberg, S.J. & Pollak, R.A. & Wales, T.J., 1994. "Do Husbands and Wives Pool Their Resources? Evidence from U.K. Child Benefit," Working Papers 94-6, University of Washington, Department of Economics.
  3. Junsen Zhang & William Chan, 1999. "Dowry and Wife's Welfare: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(4), pages 786-808, August.
  4. Strauss, J. & Thomas, D., 1995. "Health, Nutrition and Economic development," Papers 95-23, RAND - Labor and Population Program.
  5. Jeff E. Biddle & Daniel S. Hamermesh, 1995. "Beauty, Productivity and Discrimination: Lawyers' Looks and Lucre," NBER Working Papers 5366, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Shelly J. Lundberg & Robert A. Pollak & Terence J. Wales, 1997. "Do Husbands and Wives Pool Their Resources? Evidence from the United Kingdom Child Benefit," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 32(3), pages 463-480.
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Cited by:
  1. Naci Mocan & Erdal Tekin, 2010. "Ugly Criminals," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 92(1), pages 15-30, February.
  2. Pfann, Gerard A. & Biddle, Jeff E. & Hamermesh, Daniel S. & Bosman, Ciska M., 2000. "Business success and businesses' beauty capital," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 67(2), pages 201-207, May.
  3. Pfeifer, Christian, 2011. "Physical Attractiveness, Employment, and Earnings," IZA Discussion Papers 5664, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. DOORLEY Karina & SIERMINSKA Eva, 2011. "Beauty and the beast in the labor market: Evidence from a distribution regression approach," CEPS/INSTEAD Working Paper Series 2011-62, CEPS/INSTEAD.
  5. Jayoti Das & Stephen B. DeLoach, 2008. "Mirror, mirror on the wall: The effect of time spent grooming on wages," Working Papers 2008-01, Elon University, Department of Economics.
  6. Niclas Berggren & Henrik Jordahl & Panu Poutvaara, 2011. "The Right Look: Conservative Politicians Look Better and Their Voters Reward it," Working Papers CEB 11-004, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  7. Berggren, Niclas & Jordahl, Henrik & Poutvaara, Panu, 2006. "The Looks of a Winner: Beauty, Gender and Electoral Success," Working Paper Series 671, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  8. Guéguen, Nicolas, 2012. "Hair color and wages: Waitresses with blond hair have more fun," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 41(4), pages 370-372.
  9. Deryugina, Tatyana & Shurchkov, Olga, 2013. "Does Beauty Matter in Undergraduate Education?," MPRA Paper 53582, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  10. Doorley, Karina & Sierminska, Eva, 2012. "Myth or Fact? The Beauty Premium across the Wage Distribution," IZA Discussion Papers 6674, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. Hamermesh, Daniel S. & Parker, Amy, 2005. "Beauty in the classroom: instructors' pulchritude and putative pedagogical productivity," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 24(4), pages 369-376, August.
  12. Franklin G. Mixon & Steven B. Caudill, 2013. "Campus competition and co-ed allure: An institution-level analysis of collegiate dating markets," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 33(1), pages 442-453.
  13. Arunachalam, Raj & Shah, Manisha, 2010. "The Prostitute's Allure: Examining Returns to Beauty, Productivity and Discrimination," IZA Discussion Papers 5064, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  14. Claudia Sanhueza & Rodrigo Bravo & Oscar Giusti, 2008. "La Belleza y su Efecto en el Mercado Laboral: Evidencia para Chile," ILADES-Georgetown University Working Papers inv204, Ilades-Georgetown University, Universidad Alberto Hurtado/School of Economics and Bussines.

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