The Beautiful People
September 9, 2011
Physically attractive women and men earn more than average-looking ones, and very plain people earn less. In the labour market as a whole (though not, for example, in astrophysics), looks have a bigger impact on earnings than education, though intelligence—mercifully enough— is valued more highly still. Beauty is naturally rewarded in jobs where physical attractiveness would seem to matter, such as prostitution, entertainment, customer service and so on. But it also yields rewards in unexpected fields. Homely NFL quarterbacks earn less than their comelier counterparts, despite identical yards passed and years in the league. Not everything comes easier: good-looking women seeking high-flying jobs in particularly male fields may be stymied by the “bimbo effect” until they prove their competence and commitment. But the importance of beauty in the labour market is far more pervasive than one might think.