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"Beauty Is the Promise of Happiness"?

Author

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  • Hamermesh, Daniel S.

    (Barnard College)

  • Abrevaya, Jason

    (University of Texas at Austin)

Abstract

We measure the impact of individuals' looks on their life satisfaction or happiness. Using five data sets from the U.S., Canada, the U.K., and Germany, we construct beauty measures in different ways that allow putting a lower bound on the true effects of beauty on happiness. Personal beauty raises happiness, with a one standard-deviation change in beauty generating about 0.10 standard deviations of additional satisfaction/happiness among men, 0.12 among women. Accounting for a wide variety of covariates, including those that might be affected by differences in beauty, and particularly effects in the labor and marriage markets, the impact among men is more than halved, among women slightly less than halved. The majority of the effect of beauty on happiness may work through its effects on economic outcomes.

Suggested Citation

  • Hamermesh, Daniel S. & Abrevaya, Jason, 2011. ""Beauty Is the Promise of Happiness"?," IZA Discussion Papers 5600, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5600
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    Cited by:

    1. Hamermesh, Daniel S. & Gordon, Rachel A. & Crosnoe, Robert, 2019. ""O Youth and Beauty:" Children's Looks and Children's Cognitive Development," IZA Discussion Papers 12708, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    2. Ad. J. W. van de Gevel & Charles N. Noussair, 2013. "The Nexus between Artificial Intelligence and Economics," SpringerBriefs in Economics, Springer, edition 127, number 978-3-642-33648-5, December.
    3. Deng, Weiguang & Li, Dayang & Zhou, Dong, 2019. "Beauty and Job Accessibility: New Evidence from a Field Experiment," GLO Discussion Paper Series 369, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    4. Berggren, Niclas & Jordahl, Henrik & Poutvaara, Panu, 2017. "The right look: Conservative politicians look better and voters reward it," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 146(C), pages 79-86.
    5. Hani Mansour & Terra McKinnish, 2011. "Who Marries Differently-Aged Spouses?: Earnings, Ability and Appearance," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1123, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    6. Zuzana Brokesova & Andrej Cupak & Anthony Lepinteur & Marian Rizov, 2021. "Wealth, Assets and Life Satisfaction: A Metadata Instrumental-Variable Approach," Working and Discussion Papers WP 4/2021, Research Department, National Bank of Slovakia.
    7. Sonia Oreffice & Climent Quintana-Domeque, 2014. "Attractiveness, Anthropometry or Both? Their Relationship and Role in Economic Research," Working Papers 2014.106, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    8. Mavisakalyan, Astghik, 2018. "Do employers reward physical attractiveness in transition countries?," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 28(C), pages 38-52.
    9. Resul Cesur & Naci H. Mocan, 2013. "Does Secular Education Impact Religiosity, Electoral Participation and the Propensity to Vote for Islamic Parties? Evidence from an Education Reform in a Muslim Country," NBER Working Papers 19769, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Olivier Gergaud & Victor Ginsburgh & florine Livat, 2016. "Looking Good and Looking Smart," Working Papers ECARES ECARES 2016-28, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    11. Eiji Yamamura & Ryohei Hayashi & Yoshiro Tsutsui & Fumio Ohtake, 2018. "Racers f attractive looks, popularity, and performance: How do speedboat racers react to fans f expectations?," Discussion Papers in Economics and Business 18-28, Osaka University, Graduate School of Economics.
    12. Dilmaghani, Maryam, 2020. "Beauty perks: Physical appearance, earnings, and fringe benefits," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 38(C).
    13. Markus Gehrsitz, 2014. "Looks and Labor: Do Attractive People Work More?," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 28(3), pages 269-287, September.
    14. Hamermesh, Daniel S. & Kawaguchi, Daiji & Lee, Jungmin, 2017. "Does labor legislation benefit workers? Well-being after an hours reduction," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 1-12.
    15. Cheng, Hua & Li, Xue & Dong, Yan & Qi, Shusen, 2020. "Competition and favoritism in bank loan markets," Pacific-Basin Finance Journal, Elsevier, vol. 59(C).
    16. Andrea Fazio, 2021. "Beautiful inequality: Are beautiful people more willing to redistribute?," Working Papers 194, University of Rome La Sapienza, Department of Public Economics.
    17. Astghik Mavisakalyan, 2016. "Looks matter: Attractiveness and employment in the former soviet union," Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre Working Paper series WP1604, Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre (BCEC), Curtin Business School.
    18. Oreffice, Sonia & Quintana-Domeque, Climent, 2016. "Beauty, body size and wages: Evidence from a unique data set," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 22(C), pages 24-34.
    19. Peng, Langchuan & Wang, Xi & Ying, Shanshan, 2020. "The heterogeneity of beauty premium in China: Evidence from CFPS," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 386-396.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    life satisfaction; measurement error; looks;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I30 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General
    • J10 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - General
    • C20 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - General

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