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When Are Appearances Deceiving? The Nature of the Beauty Premium

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  • Deryugina, Tatyana

Abstract

We design a laboratory experiment to illuminate the channels through which relatively more attractive individuals receive higher wages. Specifically, we are able to distinguish taste-based discrimination from rational statistical discrimination and biased beliefs. Using three realistic worker tasks to increase the external validity of our results, we find that the “beauty premium” is highly task-specific: while relatively more attractive workers receive higher wage bids in a bargaining task, there is no such premium in either an analytical task or a data entry task. The premium in the bargaining task is driven by biased beliefs about worker performance. We find that there is substantial learning after worker- specific performance information is revealed, highlighting the importance of accounting for longer-run interactions in studies of discrimination.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 53581.

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Date of creation: Aug 2013
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:53581

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Related research

Keywords: Beauty Premium; Discrimination; Economic Experiments; Labor Markets;

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  1. Simon Gaechter & Elke Renner, 2006. "The Effects of (Incentivized) Belief Elicitation in Public Good Experiments," Discussion Papers 2006-16, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
  2. Berggren, Niclas & Jordahl, Henrik & Poutvaara, Panu, 2010. "The looks of a winner: Beauty and electoral success," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(1-2), pages 8-15, February.
  3. Mocan, Naci & Tekin, Erdal, 2006. "Ugly Criminals," IZA Discussion Papers 2048, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Ayres, Ian & Siegelman, Peter, 1995. "Race and Gender Discrimination in Bargaining for a New Car," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 304-21, June.
  5. Marco Castillo & Ragan Petrie & Maximo Torero & Lise Vesterlund, 2011. "Gender Differences in Bar gaining Outcomes: A Field Experiment on Discrimination," Working Papers 1029, George Mason University, Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science.
  6. 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.
  7. Mobius, Markus & Rosenblat, Tanya, 2006. "Why Beauty Matters," Scholarly Articles 3043406, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  8. David J. Cooper & Hanming Fang, 2006. "Understanding Overbidding in Second Price Auctions: An Experimental Study," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1557, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  9. Hamermesh, Daniel S & Biddle, Jeff E, 1994. "Beauty and the Labor Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(5), pages 1174-94, December.
  10. Berri, David J. & Simmons, Rob & Van Gilder, Jennifer & O'Neill, Lisle, 2011. "What does it mean to find the face of the franchise? Physical attractiveness and the evaluation of athletic performance," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 111(3), pages 200-202, June.
  11. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  12. Rosenblat, Tanya, 2008. "The Beauty Premium: Physical Attractiveness and Gender in Dictator Games," Staff General Research Papers 13001, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  13. Andreoni, James & Petrie, Ragan, 2008. "Beauty, gender and stereotypes: Evidence from laboratory experiments," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 73-93, February.
  14. Jefferson Duarte & Stephan Siegel & Lance Young, 2012. "Trust and Credit: The Role of Appearance in Peer-to-peer Lending," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 25(8), pages 2455-2484.
  15. Mariana Blanco & Dirk Engelmann & Alexander Koch & Hans-Theo Normann, 2010. "Belief elicitation in experiments: is there a hedging problem?," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 13(4), pages 412-438, December.
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