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Beauty Pays: Why Attractive People Are More Successful
     

Beauty Pays: Why Attractive People Are More Successful

2.7 3
by Daniel S. Hamermesh
 

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Most of us know there is a payoff to looking good, and in the quest for beauty we spend countless hours and billions of dollars on personal grooming, cosmetics, and plastic surgery. But how much better off are the better looking? Based on the evidence, quite a lot. The first book to seriously measure the advantages of beauty, Beauty Pays demonstrates how

Overview

Most of us know there is a payoff to looking good, and in the quest for beauty we spend countless hours and billions of dollars on personal grooming, cosmetics, and plastic surgery. But how much better off are the better looking? Based on the evidence, quite a lot. The first book to seriously measure the advantages of beauty, Beauty Pays demonstrates how society favors the beautiful and how better-looking people experience startling but undeniable benefits in all aspects of life. Noted economist Daniel Hamermesh shows that the attractive are more likely to be employed, work more productively and profitably, receive more substantial pay, obtain loan approvals, negotiate loans with better terms, and have more handsome and highly educated spouses. Hamermesh explains why this happens and what it means for the beautiful--and the not-so-beautiful--among us.

Exploring whether a universal standard of beauty exists, Hamermesh illustrates how attractive workers make more money, how these amounts differ by gender, and how looks are valued differently based on profession. He considers whether extra pay for good-looking people represents discrimination, and, if so, who is discriminating. Hamermesh investigates the commodification of beauty in dating and how this influences the search for intelligent or high-earning mates, and even examines whether government programs should aid the ugly. He also discusses whether the economic benefits of beauty will persist into the foreseeable future and what the "looks-challenged" can do to overcome their disadvantage.

Reflecting on a sensitive issue that touches everyone, Beauty Pays proves that beauty's rewards are anything but superficial.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This chatty, economist's-eye-view of beauty in the marketplace provides solid statistical evidence that beauty does pay. Hamermesh, the author of a previous book comparing working hours in the U.S. and Germany, does not attempt an anthropological or psychological study of beauty across cultures or attempt to answer the age-old question of what is beautiful. Instead, he sets himself the useful task of measuring the economic benefits of beauty through a 1–5 rating system (he rates himself a 3 and his wife a 5) by examining the spate of studies examining the relationship between attractiveness and income. Unsurprisingly, reported 4s and 5s do make more money than the 2s or 3s (3 is considered average-looking). But the author is more interested in the nearly invisible implications of this study, and he is an expert at teasing out explanations for statistical differences. For instance, studies show that women who spend more money on clothing do very little to improve their perceived beauty: "the average woman's spending only raised her looks from 3.31 to 3.36." He also points out that the difference in earnings among groups is not large, only about 3%–4% less for those less well favored. The outlier is homely looking men, who earn an average of 22% less than their action-figure counterparts, versus only a 2% difference for homely women. While these details are interesting in themselves, the book as a whole does not succeed in convincing the reader they are learning anything new or exciting. (Aug.)
New Yorker
Since the mid-nineties, Daniel Hamermesh . . . has done a series of studies on the role that appearance plays in the workplace, and his conclusion is captured by the title of his recent book, Beauty Pays. In the U.S., he finds, better-looking men earn four per cent more than average-looking men of similar education and experience, and uglier men earn thirteen per cent less. . . . Hamermesh finds that pulchritude is valuable in nearly all professions, not just those where good looks may seem to be an obvious asset. . . .
— Jim Surowiecki
Prospect
[A] no-warts-and-all exposé of how attractive people earn more, marry better and enjoy a wealth of positive discrimination.
— Anjana Ahuja
Economist
Daniel Hamermesh . . . has long written about 'pulchronomics.' In Beauty Pays he reckons that, over a lifetime and assuming today's mean wages, a handsome working in America might on average make $230,000 more than a very plain one. There is evidence that attractive workers bring in more business, so it often makes sense for firms to hire them. Whether rewarding them accordingly—and paying their less attractive peers more stingily—is good for society is another matter.
New York Journal of Books
If you live in the west and have lately looked at any magazine, watched any television, seen any movie, common sense would dictate that those who are better looking accrue the benefits of such a genetic roll of the dice. But what exactly those benefits are and if they are measurable is the point of Beauty Pays. . . . [T]his book . . . will prove more than just eye candy.
Forbes
University of Texas labor economist Daniel Hamermesh has devoted a share of his career to the study of physical beauty and how it affects employment and earning potential. In his new book, Beauty Pays, he offers up all sorts of data he's collected over years of work. His broad point, that attractive people enjoy advantages in hiring and earning, will surprise no one. But some of the details packed inside this thoughtful and in some respects quirky and confounding book, are illuminating.
— Susan Adams
Sunday Times
Hamermesh's analysis of empirical studies in his book Beauty Pays appears to suggest that being attractive does, indeed, bring measurable materials benefits. . . . Hamermesh's research appears to have clear implications for policy.
Daily Mail
Economist Daniel Hamermesh argues that ugliness is no different from race or a disability, and suggests unattractive people deserve legal protection.
— Luke Salkeld
World Magazine
Beauty Pays is intriguing and easy to read.
Dallas Morning News
In his book, Hamermesh concludes that better-looking employees are more productive, leading to higher sales and potentially higher profit. [Beauty Pays] also shows how society generates premium pay for beauty and penalties for ugliness. Hamermesh says beautiful people earn $230,000 more in a lifetime than workers with below-average looks.
— Sheryl Jean
Australian Women's Weekly
Professor Daniel Hamermesh . . . has investigated the financial benefits of beauty and found that looks have a bigger impact on our lifetime earning power than education. In his book, Beauty Pays, Professor Hamermesh says beautiful people are more likely to get jobs, raises and promotions, and suggests that, over a lifetime, the best-looking workers will earn about 10-15 percent more per year than the ugliest.
Barron's
Looks matter. . . . Labor markets as well as marriage markets, according to Daniel Hamermesh, offer premiums for good looks and penalties for ugliness. In Beauty Pays, Hamermesh assesses the role of appearance in American society, explores the options available to 'looks-challenged' people, and demonstrates that, although it's in its infancy, and is easy to mock, 'pulchronomics' (the economics of beauty) is a serious and significant subject.
Times Higher Education
Beauty Pays is a pleasant and interesting read, but along the way it will challenge many of your preconceptions and leave you wondering why we as a society do not do more to protect those with less desirable looks.
Choice
For the last 20 years, Texas economist Hamermesh has been intrigued by, and has contributed significant research on, what one may term 'The Economics of Beauty'. This short, provocative, engaging volume takes its audience through the author's previous work and contemporary data, analyses, and impact of being considered good-looking by others on one's labor-market outcomes (employment and compensation); in the social world of friends and family; and even the extent to which one's happiness is affected by the presence (or absence) of looks. . . . Whether at the beach, on an airplane, or in the seminar room, Beauty Pays pays handsome dividends for intelligent lay readers, scholars, and public policy decision makers.
Organiser
The book is absorbing and disturbing, for the thought upper most in the mind is 'Am I beautiful (enough).'
— Vaidehi Nathan
Journal of Economic Literature
The real value of this book lies not so much in its synthesis of existing results, but rather in the fact that it collects such results in a single volume. Observing side-by-side the various privileges bestowed upon the beautiful paints a picture that is more than the sum of its parts. Even though some specific results in the book may be driven by omitted variables, others are cleanly identified, and the overall set of studies builds a compelling case for the view that 'beauty pays'—being beautiful is valuable whether you are looking for a job, a loan, or a spouse.
— Emir Kamenica
New Yorker - Jim Surowiecki
Since the mid-nineties, Daniel Hamermesh . . . has done a series of studies on the role that appearance plays in the workplace, and his conclusion is captured by the title of his recent book, Beauty Pays. In the U.S., he finds, better-looking men earn four per cent more than average-looking men of similar education and experience, and uglier men earn thirteen per cent less. . . . Hamermesh finds that pulchritude is valuable in nearly all professions, not just those where good looks may seem to be an obvious asset. . . .
Prospect - Anjana Ahuja
[A] no-warts-and-all exposé of how attractive people earn more, marry better and enjoy a wealth of positive discrimination.
Forbes - Susan Adams
University of Texas labor economist Daniel Hamermesh has devoted a share of his career to the study of physical beauty and how it affects employment and earning potential. In his new book, Beauty Pays, he offers up all sorts of data he's collected over years of work. His broad point, that attractive people enjoy advantages in hiring and earning, will surprise no one. But some of the details packed inside this thoughtful and in some respects quirky and confounding book, are illuminating.
Daily Mail - Luke Salkeld
Economist Daniel Hamermesh argues that ugliness is no different from race or a disability, and suggests unattractive people deserve legal protection.
Dallas Morning News - Sheryl Jean
In his book, Hamermesh concludes that better-looking employees are more productive, leading to higher sales and potentially higher profit. [Beauty Pays] also shows how society generates premium pay for beauty and penalties for ugliness. Hamermesh says beautiful people earn $230,000 more in a lifetime than workers with below-average looks.
Organiser - Vaidehi Nathan
The book is absorbing and disturbing, for the thought upper most in the mind is 'Am I beautiful (enough).'
Journal of Economic Literature - Emir Kamenica
The real value of this book lies not so much in its synthesis of existing results, but rather in the fact that it collects such results in a single volume. Observing side-by-side the various privileges bestowed upon the beautiful paints a picture that is more than the sum of its parts. Even though some specific results in the book may be driven by omitted variables, others are cleanly identified, and the overall set of studies builds a compelling case for the view that 'beauty pays'—being beautiful is valuable whether you are looking for a job, a loan, or a spouse.
Time Magazines Higher Education
Beauty Pays is a pleasant and interesting read, but along the way it will challenge many of your preconceptions and leave you wondering why we as a society do not do more to protect those with less desirable looks.
Eastern Economic Journal - Jennifer Tennant
Beauty Pays, fascinating read, starts with the important data collection issues and questions. . . . Written by a prominent labor economist, shows the reader why beauty can rightly be under the purview or economists.
From the Publisher
"Since the mid-nineties, Daniel Hamermesh . . . has done a series of studies on the role that appearance plays in the workplace, and his conclusion is captured by the title of his recent book, Beauty Pays. In the U.S., he finds, better-looking men earn four per cent more than average-looking men of similar education and experience, and uglier men earn thirteen per cent less. . . . Hamermesh finds that pulchritude is valuable in nearly all professions, not just those where good looks may seem to be an obvious asset."—Jim Surowiecki, New Yorker

"This chatty, economist's-eye-view of beauty in the marketplace provides solid statistical evidence that beauty does pay."Publishers Weekly

"An extensive, dizzying compilation of economic data explaining 'why attractive people are more successful.' A 40-year veteran in the field of economics, Hamermesh examines the correlation between beauty and economics. . . . Fascinating."Kirkus Reviews

"[A] no-warts-and-all exposé of how attractive people earn more, marry better and enjoy a wealth of positive discrimination."—Anjana Ahuja, Prospect

"Daniel Hamermesh . . . has long written about 'pulchronomics.' In Beauty Pays he reckons that, over a lifetime and assuming today's mean wages, a handsome working in America might on average make $230,000 more than a very plain one. There is evidence that attractive workers bring in more business, so it often makes sense for firms to hire them. Whether rewarding them accordingly—and paying their less attractive peers more stingily—is good for society is another matter."Economist

"If you live in the west and have lately looked at any magazine, watched any television, seen any movie, common sense would dictate that those who are better looking accrue the benefits of such a genetic roll of the dice. But what exactly those benefits are and if they are measurable is the point of Beauty Pays. . . . [T]his book . . . will prove more than just eye candy."New York Journal of Books

"University of Texas labor economist Daniel Hamermesh has devoted a share of his career to the study of physical beauty and how it affects employment and earning potential. In his new book, Beauty Pays, he offers up all sorts of data he's collected over years of work. His broad point, that attractive people enjoy advantages in hiring and earning, will surprise no one. But some of the details packed inside this thoughtful and in some respects quirky and confounding book, are illuminating."—Susan Adams, Forbes

"Hamermesh's analysis of empirical studies in his book Beauty Pays appears to suggest that being attractive does, indeed, bring measurable materials benefits. . . . Hamermesh's research appears to have clear implications for policy."Sunday Times

"Economist Daniel Hamermesh argues that ugliness is no different from race or a disability, and suggests unattractive people deserve legal protection."—Luke Salkeld, Daily Mail

"Beauty Pays is intriguing and easy to read."World Magazine

"In his book, Hamermesh concludes that better-looking employees are more productive, leading to higher sales and potentially higher profit. [Beauty Pays] also shows how society generates premium pay for beauty and penalties for ugliness. Hamermesh says beautiful people earn $230,000 more in a lifetime than workers with below-average looks."—Sheryl Jean, Dallas Morning News

"Professor Daniel Hamermesh . . . has investigated the financial benefits of beauty and found that looks have a bigger impact on our lifetime earning power than education. In his book, Beauty Pays, Professor Hamermesh says beautiful people are more likely to get jobs, raises and promotions, and suggests that, over a lifetime, the best-looking workers will earn about 10-15 percent more per year than the ugliest."Australian Women's Weekly

"Looks matter. . . . Labor markets as well as marriage markets, according to Daniel Hamermesh, offer premiums for good looks and penalties for ugliness. In Beauty Pays, Hamermesh assesses the role of appearance in American society, explores the options available to 'looks-challenged' people, and demonstrates that, although it's in its infancy, and is easy to mock, 'pulchronomics' (the economics of beauty) is a serious and significant subject."Barron's

"Beauty Pays is a pleasant and interesting read, but along the way it will challenge many of your preconceptions and leave you wondering why we as a society do not do more to protect those with less desirable looks."Times Higher Education

"For the last 20 years, Texas economist Hamermesh has been intrigued by, and has contributed significant research on, what one may term 'The Economics of Beauty'. This short, provocative, engaging volume takes its audience through the author's previous work and contemporary data, analyses, and impact of being considered good-looking by others on one's labor-market outcomes (employment and compensation); in the social world of friends and family; and even the extent to which one's happiness is affected by the presence (or absence) of looks. . . . Whether at the beach, on an airplane, or in the seminar room, Beauty Pays pays handsome dividends for intelligent lay readers, scholars, and public policy decision makers."Choice

"The book is absorbing and disturbing, for the thought upper most in the mind is 'Am I beautiful (enough).'"—Vaidehi Nathan, Organiser

"The real value of this book lies not so much in its synthesis of existing results, but rather in the fact that it collects such results in a single volume. Observing side-by-side the various privileges bestowed upon the beautiful paints a picture that is more than the sum of its parts. Even though some specific results in the book may be driven by omitted variables, others are cleanly identified, and the overall set of studies builds a compelling case for the view that 'beauty pays'—being beautiful is valuable whether you are looking for a job, a loan, or a spouse."—Emir Kamenica, Journal of Economic Literature

"Beauty Pays, fascinating read, starts with the important data collection issues and questions. . . . Written by a prominent labor economist, shows the reader why beauty can rightly be under the purview or economists."—Jennifer Tennant, Eastern Economic Journal

"Reflecting on a sensitive issue that touches everyone, Beauty Pays proves that beauty's rewards are anything but superficial."World Book Industry

Kirkus Reviews

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781400839445
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
08/02/2011
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
232
File size:
1 MB

Meet the Author

Daniel S. Hamermesh is the Sue Killam Professor in the Foundations of Economics at the University of Texas, Austin, and professor of economics at Royal Holloway, University of London.

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Beauty Pays: Why Attractive People Are More Successful 2.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
sergevansteenkiste More than 1 year ago
Daniel Hamermesh concentrates his attention on the economics of one's beauty, especially the impact of looks on earnings. This tour of horizon is ultimately unsatisfactory due to the weaknesses of the data set used, especially in Parts I and II of the book under review. This observation is counterintuitive due to the abundance of research that Mr. Hamermesh mentions in his notes. The data used is often either too old and/or limited to assess the exact extent of the undeniable effects of beauty on economics. For example, the author relies on data from the 1970s to calculate the percentage impacts of looks on earnings in the U.S. (pp. 45; 49). Other examples include the impact of better-looking CEOs (pp. 97; 99) or the extremely sparse case law in the jurisdictions that ban discrimination based on looks (p. 156). To his credit, Mr. Hamermesh acknowledges the limitations of these studies. Furthermore, some topics addressed in the book under review have not been the subject of any systematic study. Think for example about the impact of beauty during a recession or the impact of employees' beauty in boosting sales for a profit-making organization (pp. 50; 90). In summary, the evidence provided is too often piecemeal to accurately estimate the undeniable impact of beauty on economics.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago