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Do Looks Matter for an Academic Career in Economics?


  • Hale, Galina
  • Regev, Tali
  • Rubinstein, Yona


We document appearance effects in the economics profession. Using unique data on PhD graduates from ten of the top economics departments in the United States we test whether more attractive individuals are more likely to succeed. We find robust evidence that appearance has predictive power for job outcomes and research productivity. Attractive individuals are more likely to study at higher ranked PhD institutions and are more likely to be placed at higher-ranking academic institutions not only for their first job, but also for jobs as many as 15 years after their graduation, even when we control for the ranking of PhD institution and first job. Appearance also predicts the success of research output: while it does not predict the number of papers an individual writes, it predicts the number of citations for a given number of papers, again even when we control for the ranking of the PhD institution and first job. All these effects are robust, statistically significant, and substantial in magnitude.

Suggested Citation

  • Hale, Galina & Regev, Tali & Rubinstein, Yona, 2021. "Do Looks Matter for an Academic Career in Economics?," CEPR Discussion Papers 15893, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:15893

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    4. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Green, Colin P. & Wilson, Luke B. & Zhang, Anwen, 2023. "Beauty, underage drinking, and adolescent risky behaviours," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 215(C), pages 153-166.
    2. Hamermesh, Daniel S. & Leigh, Andrew K., 2022. "“Beauty too rich for use”: Billionaires’ assets and attractiveness," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(C).
    3. Fazio, Andrea, 2022. "Attractiveness and preferences for redistribution," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 46(C).
    4. Popov, Sergey V, 2022. "Tactical Refereeing and Signaling by Publishing," Cardiff Economics Working Papers E2022/14, Cardiff University, Cardiff Business School, Economics Section.

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    More about this item


    Beauty; Appearance; Economists *;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing
    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions
    • M51 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Firm Employment Decisions; Promotions

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