Polls / June 3, 2011

Do you think a "beauty premium" exists that means attractive people get paid more?

eZonomics respondents are split over whether a “beauty premium” exists, with 46% saying they do think attractive people get paid more and 54% disagreeing.

Studies suggest the “beauty premium” exists
Does an attractive person have an easier time in the jobs market than someone less pleasing to the eye? Research on the “beauty premium” suggests this is the case. In fact, new book Beauty Pays by Freakonomics blogger and economics professor Daniel Hamermesh says the attractive are more likely to be employed, receive more substantial pay and even “negotiate loans with better terms”. The degree of influence of attractiveness depends on gender and profession, it says.

Do people discriminate based on names too?
A research paper Hamermesh published in 2006 told how he tested the beauty premium theory by sending out ballots for an election with the same basic candidate information but different photographs. Similar experiments by other researchers have tested for discrimination on the basis of sex or race by distributing several CVs with just the sex or the name of the “applicant” altered. Even first names can carry connotations that may influence success, says personal finance blog Digerati Life, with the Behind the Name website coming up with crowd-sourced lists of the most “wholesome”, “refined” or “unintellectual”.

Let’s work together
What does this beauty premium mean for us in our day-to-day life? Being aware of the phenomenon is probably a good first step for individuals – and wider society – trying to limit its influence. In the new book, Hamermesh goes as far as examining if “government programmes should aid the ugly”.
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eZonomics team
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