Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Another Reason to Envy Brad Pitt

My principles text includes a case study on the fact that more attractive people are paid more. (See the chapter on Earnings and Discrimination.) A new study on the beauty premium tells us more about the phenomenon:

Using a rich set of data from the College of Economics at the University of XX, we examine the effects of students’ physical appearance on examination results. We find evidence that beauty has a significant impact on academic performance, a result which is consistent with and comparable to the impact found in the labor market literature.

In addition, since we can compare student performances in oral and written exams, where in the latter the evaluation is blind, i.e., not influenced by physical appearance, we can in fact understand better the source of the “beauty premium”, that is disentangle productivity from discrimination effects. We find that the effect of beauty on academic performance cannot be ascribed to pure professor discrimination. One could then argue that to the extent that wages rise with educational attainments, our findings corroborate the hypothesis that the payoffs to beauty reflect differences in productivity.

Thanks to New Economist for the pointer.