Do Pretty People Earn More?
Kate Lorenz, CareerBuilder.com
Studies show attractive students get more attention and higher evaluations from their teachers, good-looking patients get more personalized care from their doctors, and handsome criminals receive lighter sentences than less attractive convicts. But how much do looks matter at work?
The ugly truth, according to economics professors Daniel Hamermesh of the University of Texas and Jeff Biddle of Michigan State University, is that plain people earn 5 to 10 percent less than people of average looks, who in turn earn 3 to 8 percent less than those deemed good-looking.
These findings concur with other research that shows the penalty for being homely exceeds the premium for beauty and that across all occupations, the effects are greater for men than women.
A London Guildhall University survey of 11,000 33-year-olds found that unattractive men earned 15 percent less than those deemed attractive, while plain women earned 11 percent less than their prettier counterparts. In their report "Beauty, Productivity and Discrimination: Lawyers', Looks and Lucre," Hamermesh and Biddle found that the probability of a male attorney attaining early partnership directly correlates with how handsome he is.
Size matters, too. A study released last year by two professors at the University of Florida and the University of North Carolina found that tall people earn considerably more money throughout their careers than their shorter coworkers, with each inch adding about $789 a year in pay.
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