The Prostitute's Allure: Examining Returns to Beauty, Productivity and Discrimination
We estimate the earnings premium for beauty in an occupation where returns to physical attractiveness are likely to be important: commercial sex work. In the commercial sex market, perhaps more so than any other sector in the labor market, the beauty premium should be at the extreme due to the intimate interpersonal relationships required with clients. Therefore, the commercial sex sector provides the cleanest test for whether the beauty premium is driven solely by productivity. Somewhat surprisingly we find estimates that lie close to or comfortably within those for non-sex workers around the world. In fact, the estimated premium for above average beauty is only slightly larger than that estimated for women elsewhere, and the penalty for below average looks lies comfortably within the range of existing findings. We show that the beauty premium in the commercial sex market stems both from productivity and discrimination. In addition, including controls for personal characteristics (communication ability and desirability of personality) cuts the beauty premium by up to one-half. Our findings suggest that beauty premiums might be overestimated if measures akin to those in our dataset are not included in beauty regressions.
|Date of creation:||Jul 2010|
|Date of revision:|
|Publication status:||published in: B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, 2012, 12 (1)|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: IZA, P.O. Box 7240, D-53072 Bonn, Germany|
Phone: +49 228 3894 223
Fax: +49 228 3894 180
Web page: http://www.iza.org
|Order Information:|| Postal: IZA, Margard Ody, P.O. Box 7240, D-53072 Bonn, Germany|
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Hamermesh, Daniel S. & Meng, Xin & Zhang, Junsen, 2002.
"Dress for success--does primping pay?,"
Elsevier, vol. 9(3), pages 361-373, July.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Mobius, Markus & Rosenblat, Tanya, 2010.
"Why Beauty Matters,"
Staff General Research Papers
32112, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
- Pfann, Gerard A. & Biddle, Jeff E. & Hamermesh, Daniel S. & Bosman, Ciska M., 2000.
"Business success and businesses' beauty capital,"
Elsevier, vol. 67(2), pages 201-207, May.
- Paul J. Gertler & Manisha Shah, 2011. "Sex Work and Infection: What's Law Enforcement Got to Do with It?," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 54(4), pages 811 - 840.
- Raj Arunachalam & Manisha Shah, 2008. "Prostitutes and Brides?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(2), pages 516-22, May.
- Baird, Sarah & Hamory, Joan & Miguel, Edward, 2008. "Tracking, Attrition and Data Quality in the Kenyan Life Panel Survey Round 1 (KLPS-1)," Center for International and Development Economics Research, Working Paper Series qt3cw7p1hx, Center for International and Development Economics Research, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5064. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Mark Fallak)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.