Beauty, Stature and the Labour Market: A British Cohort Study

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Abstract

The influence of physical appearance in the labour market is examined using longitudinal cohort data covering 11,407 individual born in Britain in 1958. Results show that physical appearance has a substantial effect onearnings and employment patterns for both men and women. Irrespective ofgender, those who are assessed as unattractive or short, experience a significant earnings penalty. Tall men receive a pay premium while obese womenexperience a pay penalty. The bulk of the pay differential for appearance arises from employer discrimination, although we find evidence for productivity differences among occupations. The impact of physical appearance is also evident in the marriage market. Among women, those who are tall or obese are less likely to be married; while among men, lower marriage rates are found for those who are short or unattractive.

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