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Triple penalty in employment access: The role of beauty, race, and sex


  • Francisco B. Galarza

    (Universidad del Pacífico)

  • Gustavo Yamada

    (Universidad del Pacífico)


This article reports the results from a first experiment specifically designed to disentangle the effect of beauty from that of race in the observed labor market discrimination, for both females and males in Peru. We randomly assigned Quechua and white surnames and (subjectively perceived) attractive or homely-looking photographs (or no photos) to 4,899 fictitious résumés sent in response to 1,247 job openings. We find that candidates who are physically attractive, have a white-sounding surname, and are males, receive 82%, 54%, and 34% more callbacks for job interviews than their similarly-qualified counterparts, thus imposing a triple penalty on homely-looking, indigenous, and female job candidates. We further find that the intensity of discrimination by race and physical appearance differs for males and females; the intensity of discrimination by physical appearance and sex differs for Quechua and white applicants; and the intensity of racial and sexual discrimination differs for beautiful and homely-looking persons.

Suggested Citation

  • Francisco B. Galarza & Gustavo Yamada, 2017. "Triple penalty in employment access: The role of beauty, race, and sex," Journal of Applied Economics, Universidad del CEMA, vol. 20, pages 29-47, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:cem:jaecon:v:20:y:2017:n:1:p:29-47

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Leo Kaas & Christian Manger, 2012. "Ethnic Discrimination in Germany's Labour Market: A Field Experiment," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 13(1), pages 1-20, February.
    2. Galarza, Francisco B. & Yamada, Gustavo, 2014. "Labor Market Discrimination in Lima, Peru: Evidence from a Field Experiment," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 83-94.
    3. Hamermesh, Daniel S., 2006. "Changing looks and changing "discrimination": The beauty of economists," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 93(3), pages 405-412, December.
    4. Busetta, Giovanni & Fiorillo, Fabio & Visalli, Emanuela, 2013. "Searching for a job is a beauty contest," MPRA Paper 49392, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. López Bóo, Florencia & Rossi, Martín A. & Urzúa, Sergio S., 2013. "The labor market return to an attractive face: Evidence from a field experiment," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 118(1), pages 170-172.
    6. Carlsson, Magnus & Rooth, Dan-Olof, 2007. "Evidence of ethnic discrimination in the Swedish labor market using experimental data," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(4), pages 716-729, August.
    7. Bradley J. Ruffle & Ze'ev Shtudiner, 2015. "Are Good-Looking People More Employable?," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 61(8), pages 1760-1776, August.
    8. Marianne Bertrand & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "Are Emily and Greg More Employable Than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 991-1013, September.
    9. List, John A. & Rasul, Imran, 2011. "Field Experiments in Labor Economics," Handbook of Labor Economics, Elsevier.
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    More about this item


    discrimination; labour market; beauty; race; sex; Peru;

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing


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