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Do Looks Matter for an Academic Career in Economics?


  • Hale, Galina B
  • 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 B & 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

    1. James J. Heckman & Sidharth Moktan, 2020. "Publishing and promotion in economics - The tyranny of the Top Five," Vox eBook Chapters, in: Sebastian Galliani & Ugo Panizza (ed.), Publishing and Measuring Success in Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 1, pages 23-32, Centre for Economic Policy Research.
    2. López Bóo, Florencia & Rossi, Martín A. & Urzúa, Sergio S., 2013. "The labor market return to an attractive face: Evidence from a field experiment," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 118(1), pages 170-172.
    3. Daniel S. Hamermesh, 2018. "Citations in Economics: Measurement, Uses, and Impacts," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 56(1), pages 115-156, March.
    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.
    5. Victoria Anauati & Sebastian Galiani & Ramiro H. Gálvez, 2016. "Quantifying The Life Cycle Of Scholarly Articles Across Fields Of Economic Research," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 54(2), pages 1339-1355, April.
    6. Berinsky, Adam J. & Huber, Gregory A. & Lenz, Gabriel S., 2012. "Evaluating Online Labor Markets for Experimental Research:'s Mechanical Turk," Political Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 20(3), pages 351-368, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Hamermesh, Daniel S. & Leigh, Andrew K., 2022. "“Beauty too rich for use”: Billionaires’ assets and attractiveness," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(C).
    2. Fazio, Andrea, 2022. "Attractiveness and preferences for redistribution," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 46(C).
    3. Green, Colin P. & Wilson, Luke B. & Zhang, Anwen, 2022. "Beauty, Underage Drinking, and Adolescent Risky Behaviours," IZA Discussion Papers 15106, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    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


    appearance; beauty; economists *;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

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

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