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The Looks of a Winner: Beauty, Gender, and Electoral Success

  • Niclas Berggren
  • Henrik Jordahl
  • Panu Poutvaara


We study the role of beauty in politics using candidate photos that figured prominently in electoral campaigns. Our investigation is based on visual assessments of 1,929 Finnish political candidates from 10,011 respondents (of which 3,708 were Finnish). An increase in beauty by one standard deviation is associated with an increase of 17–20 percent in the number of votes for the average non-incumbent candidate. The relationship is virtually always statistically significant for female candidates, and in most specifications also for male candidates.

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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 2002.

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Date of creation: 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2002
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  1. Harper, Barry, 2000. " Beauty, Stature and the Labour Market: A British Cohort Study," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 62(0), pages 771-800, Special I.
  2. Andreoni, James & Petrie, Ragan, 2008. "Beauty, gender and stereotypes: Evidence from laboratory experiments," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 73-93, February.
  3. Markus M. Mobius & Tanya S. Rosenblat, 2006. "Why Beauty Matters," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(1), pages 222-235, March.
  4. 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.
  5. Daniel S. Hamermesh & Xin Meng & Junsen Zhang, 1999. "Dress for Success -- Does Primping Pay?," NBER Working Papers 7167, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Daniel J. Benjamin & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2006. "Thin-Slice Forecasts of Gubernatorial Elections," NBER Working Papers 12660, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Daniel S. Hamermesh & Jeff E. Biddle, 1993. "Beauty and the Labor Market," NBER Working Papers 4518, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Solnick, Sara J. & Schweitzer, Maurice E., 1999. "The Influence of Physical Attractiveness and Gender on Ultimatum Game Decisions," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 79(3), pages 199-215, September.
  9. Claudia Goldin & Cecilia Rouse, 1997. "Orchestrating Impartiality: The Impact of 'Blind' Auditions on Female Musicians," Working Papers 755, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  10. repec:oup:qjecon:v:111:y:1996:i:3:p:915-41 is not listed on IDEAS
  11. Daniel S. Hamermesh, 2005. "Changing Looks and Changing "Discrimination:" The Beauty of Economists," NBER Working Papers 11712, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Alan E. Dillingham & Daniel Hamermesh & Marianne Ferber, 1994. "Gender discrimination by gender: Voting in a professional society," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 47(4), pages 622-633, July.
  13. Daniel S. Hamermesh & Peter Schmidt, 2003. "The Determinants of Econometric Society Fellows Elections," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(1), pages 399-407, January.
  14. Michael French, 2002. "Physical appearance and earnings: further evidence," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 34(5), pages 569-572.
  15. Ciska M. Bosman & Gerard Pfann & Jeff E. Biddle & Daniel S. Hamermesh, 1997. "Business Success and Businesses' Beauty Capital," NBER Working Papers 6083, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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