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Dress for Success -- Does Primping Pay?

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  • Daniel S. Hamermesh
  • Xin Meng
  • Junsen Zhang

Abstract

A unique survey of Shanghai residents in 1996 that combined labor-market information, appraisals of respondents' beauty, and household expenditures allows us to examine the relative magnitudes of the investment and consumption components of women's spending on beauty-enhancing goods and services. We find that beauty raises women's earnings (and to a lesser extent, men's) adjusted for a wide range of controls. Additional spending on clothing and cosmetics has a generally positive but decreasing marginal impact on a woman's perceived beauty. The relative sizes of these effects demonstrate that such purchases pay back at most 10 percent of each unit of expenditure in the form of higher earnings. Most such spending represents consumption.

Suggested Citation

  • Daniel S. Hamermesh & Xin Meng & Junsen Zhang, 1999. "Dress for Success -- Does Primping Pay?," NBER Working Papers 7167, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7167
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J19 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Other
    • J70 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - General

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