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.
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.