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Perfecting Beauty under the Knife: The Determinants of Global Cosmetic Surgery Consumption


  • Beghin, John C.
  • Teshome, Yalem


We investigate major conjectures regarding the prevalence of cosmetic surgical procedures and their determinants, using a quantitative multidisciplinary approach and a recent international dataset from the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons. Cosmetic surgery predominantly concerns women. The highest frequencies found in Greece, Italy, Korea, and Brazil fall short of epidemic proportions at less than 0.6% of their population. However, consistent with idealized stereotypes reported in the media and the social science literature, a few procedures dominate the composition of surgical interventions and focus on thinning bodies and reshaping breasts. Culture and geography count. We identify Latin and Neo-Confucian cultural effects associated with higher frequencies of surgical procedures. Beyond the Latin effect, a large positive geographical effect persists in Latin-American countries. Economic globalization is positively associated with the higher frequencies of procedures. Gender roles matter. Women reduce their consumption of procedures as they increasingly participate in the labor force and when they are more equally represented politically. Lower fertility increases the consumption. Finally, consumption increases with increasing income and greater availability of surgical services.

Suggested Citation

  • Beghin, John C. & Teshome, Yalem, 2014. "Perfecting Beauty under the Knife: The Determinants of Global Cosmetic Surgery Consumption," Staff General Research Papers Archive 37810, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:isu:genres:37810

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Markus M. Mobius & Tanya S. Rosenblat, 2006. "Why Beauty Matters," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(1), pages 222-235, March.
    2. 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.
    3. Halvorsen, Robert & Palmquist, Raymond, 1980. "The Interpretation of Dummy Variables in Semilogarithmic Equations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(3), pages 474-475, June.
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    More about this item


    epidemic; Cosmetic surgery; global patterns; beauty; lipoplasty; breast augmentation; gender role; globalization;

    JEL classification:

    • F60 - International Economics - - Economic Impacts of Globalization - - - General
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • Z10 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - General
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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