Does Your Attractiveness Affect Your Paycheck? One Economist Decided To Find Out.

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Does attractiveness matter when it comes to career, happiness and life outcomes?


Attractiveness has measurable effects on one's life, according to a host of studies by one influential economist. 

Attractive people have all the advantages in the ego-driven madhouse of high school, but the real world is the great equalizer, right?

If only. Research by economist Daniel S. Hamermesh has shown that attractive people have make more money and are happier. A person's beauty is measured in a few different ways, some objective (facial symmetry) and some subjective (average ratings). Hamermesh spoke recently with Stephen Dubner on Freakonomics Radio.

Here are the bullet points:

·         In the U.S., unattractiveness in men is punished by a roughly 8-10 percent loss in wages. Other studies have shown similar findings in other countries.

·         Unattractive people are slightly more likely to commit crimes.

·         NFL quarterbacks are apparently judged on more than their passing. Quarterbacks with more symmetrical faces get paid more. Specifically, a 3.2 percent increase in facial symmetry leads to a 12% increase in salary. In NFL terms, that’s $378,000 per year.

·         Lawyers in the private sector (which pays better than the public sector) tend to be better looking than their public sector counterparts, and more attractive public sector lawyers are more likely to switch to the private sector!

·         Hot for teacher? Attractive university instructors were rated as better teachers than their less comely coworkers.

·         Ready for the most depressing one? A study across four Western countries (U.S., Canada, Germany and the U.K.) showed that attractiveness correlates to happiness.

This all sounds grim for those not gifted with perfect facial symmetry, but remember: these are all just correlations. While attractive people have some advantages, and those advantages are big enough to measure, that doesn’t mean they are big enough to determine anyone’s life. Education has a bigger effect on wages, and general life outlook has a bigger effect on happiness.

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