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Beauty is the promise of happiness?

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  • Hamermesh, Daniel S.
  • Abrevaya, Jason

Abstract

We measure the impact of individuals' looks on life satisfaction and happiness. Using six data sets, from Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States, we construct beauty measures in a number of different ways. Beauty raises happiness: A one standard-deviation change in beauty generates about 0.08 standard deviations of additional satisfaction/happiness among men, 0.07 among women. The finding is robust to a rare opportunity to measure it using an instrumental variables approach. Accounting for a wide variety of covariates, particularly educational, marital, and labor-market outcomes that might be affected by beauty, the gross effects are roughly halved, with small reductions arising from the impact of beauty on monetary outcomes.

Suggested Citation

  • Hamermesh, Daniel S. & Abrevaya, Jason, 2013. "Beauty is the promise of happiness?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 351-368.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:eecrev:v:64:y:2013:i:c:p:351-368
    DOI: 10.1016/j.euroecorev.2013.09.005
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    Cited by:

    1. Ad. J. W. van de Gevel & Charles N. Noussair, 2013. "The Nexus between Artificial Intelligence and Economics," SpringerBriefs in Economics, Springer, edition 127, number 978-3-642-33648-5, June.
    2. Berggren, Niclas & Jordahl, Henrik & Poutvaara, Panu, 2017. "The right look: Conservative politicians look better and voters reward it," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 146(C), pages 79-86.
    3. Resul Cesur & Naci H. Mocan, 2013. "Does Secular Education Impact Religiosity, Electoral Participation and the Propensity to Vote for Islamic Parties? Evidence from an Education Reform in a Muslim Country," NBER Working Papers 19769, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Hani Mansour & Terra McKinnish, 2011. "Who Marries Differently-Aged Spouses?: Earnings, Ability and Appearance," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1123, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    5. Hamermesh, Daniel S. & Kawaguchi, Daiji & Lee, Jungmin, 2017. "Does labor legislation benefit workers? Well-being after an hours reduction," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 1-12.
    6. repec:eee:ehbiol:v:28:y:2018:i:c:p:38-52 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Sonia Oreffice & Climent Quintana-Domeque, 2014. "Attractiveness, Anthropometry or Both? Their Relationship and Role in Economic Research," Working Papers 2014.106, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    8. Olivier Gergaud & Victor Ginsburgh & florine Livat, 2016. "Looking Good and Looking Smart," Working Papers ECARES ECARES 2016-28, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    9. Astghik Mavisakalyan, 2016. "Looks matter: Attractiveness and employment in the former soviet union," Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre Working Paper series WP1604, Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre (BCEC), Curtin Business School.
    10. Markus Gehrsitz, 2014. "Looks and Labor: Do Attractive People Work More?," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 28(3), pages 269-287, September.
    11. Oreffice, Sonia & Quintana-Domeque, Climent, 2016. "Beauty, body size and wages: Evidence from a unique data set," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 22(C), pages 24-34.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Happiness; Beauty; Measurement error;

    JEL classification:

    • I30 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General
    • J10 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - General
    • C20 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - General

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