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Demand for LaborThe Neglected Side of the Market$
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Daniel S. Hamermesh and Corrado Giulietti

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198791379

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198791379.001.0001

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Beauty and the Labor Market

Beauty and the Labor Market

Chapter:
(p.251) 12 Beauty and the Labor Market
Source:
Demand for Labor
Author(s):

Daniel S. Hamermesh

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198791379.003.0012

We develop a theory of sorting across occupations based on looks and derive its implications for testing for the source of earnings differentials. These differentials are examined using the 1977 Quality of Employment, the 1971 Quality of American Life, and the 1981 Canadian Quality of Life surveys. Plain people earn less than people of average looks, who earn less than the good-looking. The penalty for plainness is 5 to 10 percent. The effects are slightly larger for men than women; but unattractive women are less likely than others to participate in the labor force and are more likely to be married to men with unexpectedly low human capital. Better-looking people sort into occupations where beauty is likely to be more productive; but the impact of individuals’ looks on their earnings is mostly independent of occupation.

Keywords:   Looks discrimination, beauty premium, ugliness penalty, occupational sorting, male-female differences

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