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Dress for success--does primping pay?

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  • Hamermesh, Daniel S.
  • Meng, Xin
  • Zhang, Junsen

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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Suggested Citation

  • Hamermesh, Daniel S. & Meng, Xin & Zhang, Junsen, 2002. "Dress for success--does primping pay?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(3), pages 361-373, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:labeco:v:9:y:2002:i:3:p:361-373
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. John Strauss & Duncan Thomas, 1998. "Health, Nutrition, and Economic Development," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(2), pages 766-817, June.
    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. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. Suen, Wing & Mo, Pak Hung, 1994. "Simple Analytics of Productive Consumption," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(2), pages 372-383, April.
    7. Lazear, Edward P, 1977. "Education: Consumption or Production?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(3), pages 569-597, June.
    8. Biddle, Jeff E & Hamermesh, Daniel S, 1998. "Beauty, Productivity, and Discrimination: Lawyers' Looks and Lucre," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(1), pages 172-201, January.
    9. Eric A. Hanushek, 1996. "Measuring Investment in Education," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(4), pages 9-30, Fall.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J19 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Other
    • J70 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - General

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