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Beauty Pays

Beauty Pays: Why Attractive People Are More Successful

Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 232
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  • Book Info
    Beauty Pays
    Book Description:

    Most of us know there is a payoff to looking good, and in the quest for beauty we spend countless hours and billions of dollars on personal grooming, cosmetics, and plastic surgery. But how much better off are the better looking? Based on the evidence, quite a lot. The first book to seriously measure the advantages of beauty,Beauty Paysdemonstrates how society favors the beautiful and how better-looking people experience startling but undeniable benefits in all aspects of life. Noted economist Daniel Hamermesh shows that the attractive are more likely to be employed, work more productively and profitably, receive more substantial pay, obtain loan approvals, negotiate loans with better terms, and have more handsome and highly educated spouses. Hamermesh explains why this happens and what it means for the beautiful--and the not-so-beautiful--among us.

    Exploring whether a universal standard of beauty exists, Hamermesh illustrates how attractive workers make more money, how these amounts differ by gender, and how looks are valued differently based on profession. He considers whether extra pay for good-looking people represents discrimination, and, if so, who is discriminating. Hamermesh investigates the commodification of beauty in dating and how this influences the search for intelligent or high-earning mates, and even examines whether government programs should aid the ugly. He also discusses whether the economic benefits of beauty will persist into the foreseeable future and what the "looks-challenged" can do to overcome their disadvantage.

    Reflecting on a sensitive issue that touches everyone,Beauty Paysproves that beauty's rewards are anything but superficial.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-3944-5
    Subjects: Economics, Business

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Daniel S. Hamermesh
  4. PART I Background to Beauty

    • CHAPTER 1 The Economics of Beauty
      (pp. 3-10)

      Modern man is obsessed with beauty. From the day we are old enough to recognize our faces in a mirror until well after senility sets in, we are concerned with our looks. A six-year-old girl wants to have clothes like those of her “princess” dolls; a pre-teenage boy may insist on a haircut in the latest style (just as I insisted on my crew cut in 1955); twenty-somethings primp at length before a Saturday night out. Even after our looks, self-presentation, and other characteristics have landed us a mate, we still devote time and money to dyeing our hair, obtaining...

    • CHAPTER 2 In the Eye of the Beholder
      (pp. 11-36)

      What is human beauty? How does beauty vary by gender, race, and age? Most important, do observers have at least somewhat consistent views of what makes a person beautiful? In order to answer these questions, we first need to attempt to define beauty. One online dictionary offers a definition of beauty that is relevant for our purposes: “The quality or aggregate of qualities in a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit.”¹ The term “aggregate of qualities in a person” comes close to describing beauty in an economic context; but it...

  5. PART II Beauty on the Job:: What and Why

    • CHAPTER 3 Beauty and the Worker
      (pp. 39-65)

      Everybody assumes that better-looking people make more money. But why should that be? Is it even true? And if it is true, how much more do they make? Put simply, how much extra does a good-looking worker earn than an average-looking worker? How much less than an average-looking worker does a bad-looking worker make? These sound like simple questions, but they aren’t. Because beauty may be related to other characteristics that workers possess, we need to separate out the effects of beauty on income from those of other things that may be related to both beauty and income. Answers to...

    • CHAPTER 4 Beauty in Specific Occupations
      (pp. 66-85)

      You are almost certainly not going to choose to become an opera singer unless you have some natural vocal gifts; and you are not going to become a professional tennis player unless you have at least some basic level of physical coordination.¹ These are fairly esoteric occupations with few practitioners. Unlike vocal ability or physical coordination, beauty is a general characteristic. How does your beauty affect the occupation you choose to enter? It seems reasonable to believe that your beauty will help to determine the career choices that you make as a worker. To what extent are better-looking people choosing...

    • CHAPTER 5 Beauty and the Employer
      (pp. 86-101)

      In many occupations better-looking workers earn more than others, while bad-looking workers do worse than average. Across the entire economy, good-looking workers earn more on average than their otherwise identical but less well-endowed colleagues. A crucial puzzle is how employers of these workers can survive in a competitive market, if their workers, who are no different from others except for their looks, are paid more. How can they compete against other employers in the same industry who are willing to settle for the less expensive, uglier workers?

      Take, for instance, Alan Greenspan, former Chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve Board....

    • CHAPTER 6 Lookism or Productive Beauty, and Why?
      (pp. 102-122)

      Beauty raises earnings, in the population in general and among practitioners in particular occupations. There is no question that it benefits the beautiful; and we saw how it increases companies’ sales, and perhaps even their profits. Beauty provides extra money for those who possess it and is productive for those who hire them; but is it productive for society? How can we discuss the effects of beauty in terms that economists, attorneys, and the general public might find useful? Do they result from discrimination, and if so, who is discriminating? What does it mean for beauty to be productive? Underlying...

  6. PART III Beauty in Love, Loans, and Law

    • CHAPTER 7 Beauty in Markets for Friends, Family, and Funds
      (pp. 125-147)

      Beauty matters in labor markets—and it surely also matters in an immense variety of non-economic activities. If you agree to spend time with friends, you are exchanging something with them—your time—and getting their time in return, even though no money is exchanged. Time is scarce, and each party could spend it with someone else—or alone; you have alternative uses of your time. Your choice means that you are giving up the opportunity to be with other people in favor of time spent with these friends. How beauty affects even this most rudimentary non-monetary exchange is an...

    • CHAPTER 8 Legal Protection for the Ugly
      (pp. 148-170)

      Fair is not a word that economists use a lot. We are more concerned with how people’s characteristics affect market outcomes, predicting the effects of changes on those outcomes, examining incentives, and so on, than with asking whether an outcome meets some criterion of fairness. But having demonstrated that there is a beauty premium, and an ugliness penalty, in so many areas of daily life, it is worth asking the question: Is it fair that some people, who happen to be born and grow up bad-looking, are disadvantaged in so many ways compared to others who are, for examples, no...

  7. PART IV The Future of Looks

    • CHAPTER 9 Prospects for the Looks-Challenged
      (pp. 173-180)

      Beauty pervades specific aspects of economic behavior. But does it affect how we feel about our lives generally? Will the impacts of beauty continue over the near and even the more distant future that should concern all of us? At least as important, should beauty continue to matter: Does any evolutionary basis for our continued preoccupation with people’s looks remain? What could we as a society do to lessen the negative impacts of bad looks on people’s lives? If we do nothing and if the impacts of beauty do not disappear, what can looks-challenged individuals do to help themselves?


  8. NOTES
    (pp. 181-202)
  9. INDEX
    (pp. 203-216)