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Facial Attractiveness and Lifetime Earnings: Evidence from a Cohort Study


  • John Karl Scholz

    () (University of Wisconsin–Madison, College of Letters & Science)

  • Kamil Sicinski

    () (University of Wisconsin-Madison, Center for Demography of Health and Aging and the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study)


We use unique longitudinal data to document an economically and statistically significant positive correlation between the facial attractiveness of male high school graduates and their subsequent labor market earnings. There are only weak links between facial attractiveness and direct measures of cognitive skills and no link between facial attractiveness and mortality. Even after including a lengthy set of characteristics, including IQ, high school activities, proxy measures for confidence and personality, family background, and additional respondent characteristics in an empirical model of earnings, the attractiveness premium is present in the respondents’ mid-30s and early 50s. Our findings are consistent with attractiveness being an enduring, positive labor market characteristic. © 2015 The President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Suggested Citation

  • John Karl Scholz & Kamil Sicinski, 2015. "Facial Attractiveness and Lifetime Earnings: Evidence from a Cohort Study," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 97(1), pages 14-28, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:97:y:2015:i:1:p:14-28

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    Cited by:

    1. Hamermesh, Daniel S. & Gordon, Rachel A. & Crosnoe, Robert, 2019. ""O Youth and Beauty:" Children's Looks and Children's Cognitive Development," IZA Discussion Papers 12708, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    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. Das, Tirthatanmoy & Polachek, Solomon, 2017. "Micro Foundations of Earnings Differences," IZA Discussion Papers 10922, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    4. repec:eee:ehbiol:v:28:y:2018:i:c:p:38-52 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. repec:oup:geronb:v:72:y:2017:i:1:p:187-199. is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Ralph Stinebrickner & Todd Stinebrickner & Paul Sullivan, 2019. "Beauty, Job Tasks, and Wages: A New Conclusion about Employer Taste-Based Discrimination," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 101(4), pages 602-615, October.
    7. Suyong Song & Stephen S. Baek, 2019. "Shape Matters: Evidence from Machine Learning on Body Shape-Income Relationship," Papers 1906.06747,
    8. Colin Green & Luke Wilson & Anwen Zhang, 2019. "Beauty and Adolescent Risky Behaviours," Working Paper Series 18019, Department of Economics, Norwegian University of Science and Technology.
    9. repec:bla:coecpo:v:35:y:2017:i:4:p:677-683 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. 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.
    11. repec:eee:ecolet:v:181:y:2019:i:c:p:116-119 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. 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.
    13. Deryugina, Tatyana & Shurchkov, Olga, 2015. "Now you see it, now you don’t: The vanishing beauty premium," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 116(C), pages 331-345.

    More about this item


    longitudinal; data; facial attractiveness; labor market earnings;

    JEL classification:

    • J80 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Standards - - - General
    • J59 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - Other


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