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Beauty and the Labor Market

Author

Listed:
  • Hamermesh, Daniel S
  • Biddle, Jeff E

Abstract

The authors 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 to 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. Copyright 1994 by American Economic Association.

Suggested Citation

  • Hamermesh, Daniel S & Biddle, Jeff E, 1994. "Beauty and the Labor Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(5), pages 1174-1194, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:84:y:1994:i:5:p:1174-94
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Alan E. Dillingham & Marianne A. Ferber & Daniel S. Hamermesh, 1994. "Gender Discrimination by Gender: Voting in a Professional Society," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 47(4), pages 622-633, July.
    2. Blau, Francine D & Beller, Andrea H, 1992. "Black-White Earnings over the 1970s and 1980s: Gender Differences in Trends," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 74(2), pages 276-286, May.
    3. Terza, Joseph V., 1987. "Estimating linear models with ordinal qualitative regressors," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 275-291, March.
    4. Susan Averett & Sanders Korenman, 1996. "The Economic Reality of the Beauty Myth," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 31(2), pages 304-330.
    5. McLean, R.A. & Moon, M., 1980. "Health, obesity, and earnings," American Journal of Public Health, American Public Health Association, vol. 70(9), pages 1006-1009.
    6. Rosen, Sherwin, 1974. "Hedonic Prices and Implicit Markets: Product Differentiation in Pure Competition," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(1), pages 34-55, Jan.-Feb..
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing

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