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BEAUTY PAYS by Daniel S. Hamermesh


Why Attractive People Are More Successful

by Daniel S. Hamermesh

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-691-14046-9
Publisher: Princeton Univ.

An extensive, dizzying compilation of economic data explaining “why attractive people are more successful.”

A 40-year veteran in the field of economics, Hamermesh (Economics/Univ. of Texas; Economics is Everywhere, 2003, etc.) examines the correlation between beauty and economics “using a nationally representative sample of adults, and to do so in the context of economic models of the determination of earnings.” The author begins by addressing the fundamental difficulties of pursuing such a complex topic cross-culturally and internationally, not to mention by gender, race and age. Thus, readers may find that the mountain of statistical data can at times overwhelm the narrative. But Hamermesh’s findings give credence to the nagging hunch many readers have had all along: that “within most occupations, the better-looking earn significantly more” and that employers “believe that they will be helped if they hire better-looking workers.” He finds that "bad-looking men" earn, on average, 17 percent less than their Adonis-like counterparts and that, among women, there's a 12 percent pay difference. HR representatives would be wise to consult the essential ethical discussion regarding the “pure discrimination in favor of the good-looking and against the bad-looking” with which the author concludes his simultaneously fascinating and frustrating investigation.