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Skin color, physical appearance, and perceived discriminatory treatment

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  • Hersch, Joni

Abstract

This paper examines the relation between observer-ratings of attractiveness and skin tone, weight, and height, and provides evidence on whether these physical characteristics affect the likelihood that individuals report discriminatory treatment in a variety of contexts. African Americans with lighter color, and white men with darker color, are rated as more attractive, as are taller men and both men and women of normal weight. Although a vast literature indicates that physical appearance influences how one is treated, there is little evidence that perceived discriminatory treatment is related to physical characteristics such as attractiveness, weight, or height. An exception is for African Americans with lighter skin color who report less discriminatory treatment in daily activities and on the basis of color.

Suggested Citation

  • Hersch, Joni, 2011. "Skin color, physical appearance, and perceived discriminatory treatment," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 40(5), pages 671-678.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:soceco:v:40:y:2011:i:5:p:671-678
    DOI: 10.1016/j.socec.2011.05.006
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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. Anne Case & Christina Paxson, 2008. "Stature and Status: Height, Ability, and Labor Market Outcomes," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(3), pages 499-532, June.
    3. Giam Pietro Cipriani & Angelo Zago, 2011. "Productivity or Discrimination? Beauty and the Exams," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 73(3), pages 428-447, June.
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    5. Charles L. Baum & William F. Ford, 2004. "The wage effects of obesity: a longitudinal study," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 13(9), pages 885-899.
    6. Joni Hersch, 2008. "Profiling the New Immigrant Worker: The Effects of Skin Color and Height," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(2), pages 345-386, April.
    7. Markus M. Mobius & Tanya S. Rosenblat, 2006. "Why Beauty Matters," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(1), pages 222-235, March.
    8. 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.
    9. Dan-Olof Rooth, 2009. "Obesity, Attractiveness, and Differential Treatment in Hiring: A Field Experiment," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 44(3).
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    12. Michael French, 2002. "Physical appearance and earnings: further evidence," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 34(5), pages 569-572.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Skin tone; Attractiveness; Obesity; Discrimination;

    JEL classification:

    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J7 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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