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Study Shows $235K Pay Gap Between Attractive And Unattractive People

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Study shows why being conventionally attractive pays off.


Reported by April Taylor

While most people would like to believe that how much they earn is completely based on their merits, in reality, that just is not true.  Despite being taught that effort and determination are the biggest contributing factors to success, the Huffington Post recently reported on just how much physical appearance have a significant and tangible impact on earnings.
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The findings were revealed in a video recently released by Vox that compared earnings for those who are considered “conventionally attractive” and those who are not.  When factors for age, family structure, job, and tenure were controlled for, “attractive” and “unattractive” people are separated by a lifetime pay gap of $230,000.  Studies show that people are are considered beautiful are generally seen as being more competent, kind, and trustworthy.

The video also reveals that heavier women earn less while taller people earn more, so it is not just standards of beauty that affect pay but also physical proportions.  University of Texas labor economist Daniel Hamermesh has extensively studied how physical beauty impacts employment and earnings.  The term given to the economics of beauty is pulchronomics.  One of the surprising findings in Hamermesh’s pulchronomics research is that mens’ pay is more significantly impacted than women’s pay when it comes to beauty.  Below average looking men are found to earn 17 percent less than good looking men, while below average looking females earn 12 percent less than women who are considered more attractive.

The study goes a long way in justifying that there are valid reasons why the beauty industry has become a $160 billion business.  The fact that multiple studies have shown that attractive people not only get paid more but are often hired sooner and get promotions more quickly is disheaartening.  However, as Hamermesh points out in his book on the subject, the disadvantages faced by those who do not have super model looks is not so great that it is insurmountable.