13 Economic Facts About Beautiful People

Beauty Pays

Photo: Princeton University Press

You’ve suspected as much. Yes, the genetically blessed get more. Of everything. Romantically, professionally, they even have an easier time borrowing money. Not surprisingly, the beautiful are also more satisfied with their lives.Economist Daniel Hamermesh analyses this fascinating topic in a new book, Beauty Pays: Why Attractive People Are More Successful


Hamermesh comes to the conclusion that strict legal protection is required to prevent beauty discrimination.

Psychologists say symmetry is the primary factor for determining beauty

When it comes to assessing what is pleasing to the eye, there is no need to adjust for culture, race, or age. An attractive person will look attractive to most people.

Paraphrased from Beauty Pays.

You can quantify beauty

The psychologically codified scale, from 1 to 5:

5 - strikingly handsome
4 - good looking
3 - average looks for age and sex
2 - quite plain
1 - homely

Paraphrased from Beauty Pays.

The best looking women make 8% more than the average-lookers and the hottest men earn 4% more

Fabulous faces not only make more money, the plain and the homely lose out to an even greater extent:

  • The bottom 15% of women in the looks department receive 4% less pay than average-looking women.
  • For men, the bottom 15% earn 13% less than average looking men.

Take a deep breath, look in the mirror, and think about what this would mean to your bottom line.

Paraphrased from Beauty Pays.

Truly unattractive women are 5% more likely than the truly lovely to opt not to work

It goes like this: if your earning potential is a major factor in the decision to work, you are more likely to enter, or re-enter, if your earning potential is good or better.

Self-selection leads those with less earning power to stay out of the work-force, and women rated in the lower half are more likely to stay home.

Paraphrased from Beauty Pays.

Paraphrased from Beauty Pays.

There is a certain wisdom in taking your ugly mug where it might actually be an advantage.

Paraphrased from Beauty Pays.

When the pretty work, do they always earn more, do better?

Over all, yes. In the jobs where looks actually improve prospects - entertainer, model, prostitute - an even bigger, yes.

Take the street hooker: the better looking ones earn, on average, 12% more than those deemed less so (variable such as services offered, etc, taken into account, of course). The higher-end escorts who are also above-average in looks earn even more than that.

And even when looks don't have to matter, they do. Among MBA grads examined in a small study, the better-looking men had higher starting salaries and faster earnings growth in their first 10 years. For women, looks had little effect on their starting salaries, but did improve their earnings growth. Our author interprets this to mean, for women, there is a rising effect of beauty with age.

In the legal world, the specialties self-select (or people are offered entry level positions in) departments appropriate to appearance. The better looking grads disproportionately head to litigation while the decidedly bottom half of the looks-ladder head to tax law and the like. It would seem L.A. Law casting had it right.

Paraphrased from Beauty Pays.

The maths is simple -- the good-looking generate more revenue than the not-so-much

It would seem the lovely get more, do better, and the economics are there to back it up.

Paraphrased from Beauty Pays.

Pretty people borrow money more easily and are more likely to later default on the loan

Oh, and studies reveal the lookers get lower interest rates, too.

Paraphrased from Beauty Pays.

Hire yourself up a whole bunch of unprepossessing folk and watch your profits soar

When Alan Greenspan was asked why, pre-Fed, his team at an economics consulting company was predominantly female he explained it thus:

In his field, women earned less, yet they did the job just as well. He hired women because he could get the same (or better) work while paying lower wages. Lower pay means a stronger and more profitable bottom line.

Start-ups and companies seeking a leaner, meaner bottom line behoove themselves to load up on the female, the ugly, and other less-paid types. A business philosophy that is just begging for a label we can all say out-loud without gagging.

Paraphrased from Beauty Pays.

Does it surprise you to know Santa Cruz is one of a few cities to explicitly protect the ugly?

Screaming with irony, it turns out France is the international epicentre of relief for the ugly

Federal law prohibits discrimination based on looks in every aspect of hiring, recruiting, transfers, classification, promotion, or pay.

Paraphrased from Beauty Pays.

Finally the gorgeous report greater satisfaction with their lives -- 55% report life is good

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