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Beauty and the beast in the labor market: Evidence from a distribution regression approach

  • DOORLEY Karina
  • SIERMINSKA Eva

We apply an innovative technique to allow for differential effects of physical appearance across the wage distribution, as traditional methods confound opposing effects. Counterfactual wage distributions constructed using distribution regression,show that unattractive women are more likely to earn less than the median wage, particularly in professions where physical appearance is important. We also find a premium for well-paid attractive men in these professions. A comparison with results from traditional models shows that the characteristics of people in different physical appearance classes contributes to the effects identified using the latter and only a small portion could be discrimination.

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Paper provided by CEPS/INSTEAD in its series CEPS/INSTEAD Working Paper Series with number 2011-62.

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Length: 40 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:irs:cepswp:2011-62
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  1. Mocan, Naci & Tekin, Erdal, 2006. "Ugly Criminals," IZA Discussion Papers 2048, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Mobius, Markus & Rosenblat, Tanya, 2010. "Why Beauty Matters," Staff General Research Papers 32112, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  3. Heckman, James, 2013. "Sample selection bias as a specification error," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 31(3), pages 129-137.
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  8. Victor Chernozhukov & Ivan Fernandez-Val & Blaise Melly, 2008. "Inference On Counterfactual Distributions," Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series wp2008-005, Boston University - Department of Economics.
  9. Huber, Martin & Melly, Blaise, 2011. "Quantile Regression in the Presence of Sample Selection," Economics Working Paper Series 1109, University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science.
  10. Hamermesh, Daniel S & Biddle, Jeff E, 1994. "Beauty and the Labor Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(5), pages 1174-94, December.
  11. Anindya Sen & Marcel-Cristian Voia & Frances R. Woolley, 2010. "Hot or Not: How Appearance Affects Earnings and Productivity in Academia," Carleton Economic Papers 10-07, Carleton University, Department of Economics.
  12. Thomas Y. Mathä & Alessandro Porpiglia & Eva Sierminska, 2011. "The Immigrant/Native Wealth Gap in Germany, Italy and Luxembourg," BCL working papers 57, Central Bank of Luxembourg.
  13. Oaxaca, Ronald, 1973. "Male-Female Wage Differentials in Urban Labor Markets," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 14(3), pages 693-709, October.
  14. Foresi, S. & Paracchi, F., 1992. "The Conditional Distribution of Excess Returns: An Empirical Analysis," Working Papers 92-49, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  15. Jeff E. Biddle & Daniel S. Hamermesh, 1995. "Beauty, Productivity and Discrimination: Lawyers' Looks and Lucre," NBER Working Papers 5366, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. 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.
  17. Moshe Buchinsky, 1998. "The dynamics of changes in the female wage distribution in the USA: a quantile regression approach," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 13(1), pages 1-30.
  18. Hamermesh, Daniel S. & Meng, Xin & Zhang, Junsen, 2002. "Dress for success--does primping pay?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(3), pages 361-373, July.
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