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Does Beauty Matter in Undergraduate Education?

  • Deryugina, Tatyana
  • Shurchkov, Olga

Physically attractive individuals achieve greater success in terms of earnings and status than those who are less attractive. However, much about the mechanism behind this “beauty premium” remains unknown. We use a rich dataset to shed light on its nature at the college level. We find that students judged to be more attractive perform significantly worse on standardized tests but, conditional on test scores, are not evaluated more favorably at the point of admission. Controlling for test scores, more attractive students receive marginally better grades in some cases. Finally, there is substantial beauty-based sorting into areas of study and occupations.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 53582.

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Date of creation: 05 Aug 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:53582
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  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. Stacy Dale & Alan B. Krueger, 2011. "Estimating the Return to College Selectivity over the Career Using Administrative Earnings Data," NBER Working Papers 17159, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. 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.
  4. Elish Kelly & Philip O'Connell & Emer Smyth, 2008. "The Economic Returns to Field of Study and Competencies Among Higher Education Graduates in Ireland," Papers WP242, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
  5. Rodney J. Andrews & Jing Li & Michael F. Lovenheim, 2012. "Quantile Treatment Effects of College Quality on Earnings: Evidence from Administrative Data in Texas," NBER Working Papers 18068, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Craig E. Landry & Andreas Lange & John A. List & Michael K. Price & Nicholas G. Rupp, 2006. "Toward an Understanding of the Economics of Charity: Evidence from a Field Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(2), pages 747-782.
  7. Arcidiacono, Peter, 2004. "Ability sorting and the returns to college major," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 121(1-2), pages 343-375.
  8. Matthew Wiswall & Basit Zafar, 2015. "Determinants of College Major Choice: Identification using an Information Experiment," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 82(2), pages 791-824.
  9. Hamermesh, Daniel S. & Meng, Xin & Zhang, Junsen, 2002. "Dress for success--does primping pay?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(3), pages 361-373, July.
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  11. Naci Mocan & Erdal Tekin, 2006. "Ugly Criminals," NBER Working Papers 12019, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Thomas N. Daymonti & Paul J. Andrisani, 1984. "Job Preferences, College Major, and the Gender Gap in Earnings," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 19(3), pages 408-428.
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  14. Berggren, Niclas & Jordahl, Henrik & Poutvaara, Panu, 2010. "The looks of a winner: Beauty and electoral success," Munich Reprints in Economics 20267, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  15. Blundell, Richard, et al, 2000. "The Returns to Higher Education in Britain: Evidence from a British Cohort," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(461), pages F82-99, February.
  16. Berri, David J. & Simmons, Rob & Van Gilder, Jennifer & O'Neill, Lisle, 2011. "What does it mean to find the face of the franchise? Physical attractiveness and the evaluation of athletic performance," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 111(3), pages 200-202, June.
  17. Mark C. Berger, 1988. "Predicted Future Earnings and Choice of College Major," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 41(3), pages 418-429, April.
  18. Stacy Dale & Alan B. Krueger, 2011. "Estimating the Return to College Selectivity over the Career Using Administrative Earning Data," Working Papers 1297, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  19. Fletcher, Jason M., 2009. "Beauty vs. brains: Early labor market outcomes of high school graduates," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 105(3), pages 321-325, December.
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