IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/iza/izadps/dp6674.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Myth or Fact? The Beauty Premium across the Wage Distribution

Author

Listed:
  • Doorley, Karina

    () (Economic and Social Research Institute, Dublin)

  • Sierminska, Eva

    () (LISER (CEPS/INSTEAD))

Abstract

We apply an innovative technique to allow for differential effects of physical appearance and self-confidence across the wage distribution, as traditional methods can confound opposing effects at either end of the wage distribution. Comparing the effects of beauty and confidence measures in two countries (Germany and Luxembourg), we find that wages are more driven by looks than self-esteem. Counterfactual wage distributions, constructed using distribution regression, show a beauty premium for women at the bottom of the wage distribution. However, most of this is explained by the fact that attractive women have better labor market attributes than their unattractive counterparts. We find a large wage premium for attractive men throughout the wage distribution which is largely unexplained by labor market attributes. There is a small wage penalty for self-confident individuals, particularly men, although their labor market characteristics are generally better than their less confident counterparts. We show that the difference in characteristics between beautiful and plain people contributes to the beauty premium identified using traditional models, particularly for women. Isolating the characteristic effect from the unexplained effect of beauty on wages leads to smaller beauty premium for women.

Suggested Citation

  • Doorley, Karina & Sierminska, Eva, 2012. "Myth or Fact? The Beauty Premium across the Wage Distribution," IZA Discussion Papers 6674, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6674
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://ftp.iza.org/dp6674.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Naci Mocan & Erdal Tekin, 2010. "Ugly Criminals," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 92(1), pages 15-30, February.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. Victor Chernozhukov & Iván Fernández‐Val & Blaise Melly, 2013. "Inference on Counterfactual Distributions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 81(6), pages 2205-2268, November.
    5. 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.
    6. DOORLEY Karina & SIERMINSKA Eva, 2011. "Beauty and the beast in the labor market: Evidence from a distribution regression approach," LISER Working Paper Series 2011-62, LISER.
    7. Hamermesh, Daniel S. & Meng, Xin & Zhang, Junsen, 2002. "Dress for success--does primping pay?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(3), pages 361-373, July.
    8. Markus M. Mobius & Tanya S. Rosenblat, 2006. "Why Beauty Matters," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(1), pages 222-235, March.
    9. López Bóo, Florencia & Rossi, Martín A. & Urzúa, Sergio S., 2013. "The labor market return to an attractive face: Evidence from a field experiment," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 118(1), pages 170-172.
    10. Nicola Persico & Andrew Postlewaite & Dan Silverman, 2004. "The Effect of Adolescent Experience on Labor Market Outcomes: The Case of Height," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(5), pages 1019-1053, October.
    11. Fortin, Nicole & Lemieux, Thomas & Firpo, Sergio, 2011. "Decomposition Methods in Economics," Handbook of Labor Economics, Elsevier.
    12. 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.
    13. 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.
    14. Michael French, 2002. "Physical appearance and earnings: further evidence," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 34(5), pages 569-572.
    15. Neal, Derek A & Johnson, William R, 1996. "The Role of Premarket Factors in Black-White Wage Differences," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(5), pages 869-895, October.
    16. Nicola Persico & Andrew Postlewaite & Dan Silverman, 2001. "The Effect of Adolescent Experience on Labor Market Outcomes: The Case of Height, Third Version," PIER Working Paper Archive 04-013, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania, revised 15 Mar 2004.
    17. 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.
    18. Jeff Borland & Andrew Leigh, 2014. "Unpacking the Beauty Premium: What Channels Does It Operate Through, and Has It Changed Over Time?," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 90(288), pages 17-32, March.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Rob Lowe & the left's dilemma
      by chris dillow in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2014-04-09 17:59:16
    2. Marriage & wages
      by chris in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2017-07-26 17:57:45

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. LIU Xing & SIERMINSKA Eva, 2014. "Evaluating the effect of beauty on labor market outcomes: A review of the literature," LISER Working Paper Series 2014-11, LISER.
    3. Markus Gehrsitz, 2014. "Looks and Labor: Do Attractive People Work More?," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 28(3), pages 269-287, September.
    4. Doorley, Karina & Sierminska, Eva, 2015. "Myth or fact? The beauty premium across the wage distribution in Germany," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 129(C), pages 29-34.
    5. Sonia Oreffice & Climent Quintana-Domeque, 2015. "The Role of Body Size in Economic Research Above and Beyond Beauty," CHILD Working Papers Series 35, Centre for Household, Income, Labour and Demographic Economics (CHILD) - CCA.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    discrimination; distribution; physical appearance; wages;

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J30 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - General
    • J70 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - General

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6674. 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). General contact details of provider: http://www.iza.org .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.