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

Listed author(s):
  • 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 LISER in its series LISER Working Paper Series with number 2011-62.

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Length: 40 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2011
Handle: RePEc:irs:cepswp:2011-62
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  1. Naci Mocan & Erdal Tekin, 2010. "Ugly Criminals," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 92(1), pages 15-30, February.
  2. Victor Chernozhukov & Iván Fernández‐Val & Blaise Melly, 2013. "Inference on Counterfactual Distributions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 81(6), pages 2205-2268, November.
  3. 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.
  4. Hamermesh, Daniel S. & Meng, Xin & Zhang, Junsen, 2002. "Dress for success--does primping pay?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(3), pages 361-373, July.
  5. Markus M. Mobius & Tanya S. Rosenblat, 2006. "Why Beauty Matters," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(1), pages 222-235, March.
  6. 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.
  7. Vincent A. Hildebrand & Philippe Van Kerm, 2010. "Body size and wages in Europe: A semi-parametric analysis," Social and Economic Dimensions of an Aging Population Research Papers 269, McMaster University.
  8. 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.
  9. Hamermesh, Daniel S & Biddle, Jeff E, 1994. "Beauty and the Labor Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(5), pages 1174-1194, December.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. Mathä, Thomas Y. & Porpiglia, Alessandro & Sierminska, Eva, 2011. "The immigrant/native wealth gap in Germany, Italy and Luxembourg," Working Paper Series 1302, European Central Bank.
  13. Dorothe Bonjour & Michael Gerfin, 2001. "The unequal distribution of unequal pay - An empirical analysis of the gender wage gap in Switzerland," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 26(2), pages 407-427.
  14. Koenker, Roger W & Bassett, Gilbert, Jr, 1978. "Regression Quantiles," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(1), pages 33-50, January.
  15. Heckman, James, 2013. "Sample selection bias as a specification error," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 31(3), pages 129-137.
  16. 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.
  17. Greve, Jane, 2007. "Obesity and Labor Market Outcomes: New Danish Evidence," Working Papers 07-13, University of Aarhus, Aarhus School of Business, Department of Economics.
  18. 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.
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