Tuesday 16 August 2011

Beauty in Economics

Dan Hamermesh writes:

While we don’t have studies of economists’ beauty and their salaries, we do know something about the impact of their looks on non-monetary outcomes. In a profession that pays well, but that does not offer immensely higher monetary rewards to the top people, the distinctions offered by various honors become important. One such measure of distinction is the esteem in which they are held by their colleagues.
In one study I examined how success in competitive elections to office in the American Economic Association, the leading professional organization in the field, is affected by the economists’ looks. Each voter (member of the association) receives pictures of the candidates along with the ballot so that the candidates’ looks confront you when you cast your vote.
Clearly, in such elections someone will win. So the relevant consideration is not the looks of the candidates alone, but instead how their looks compare to those of other candidates. The results show that moving from the 84th to the 16th percentile of looks lowers a candidate’s chance of winning the election — of obtaining this honor — from 56 percent to 44 percent. This effect adjusts for measures of the candidates’ scholarly productivity, their gender, and other characteristics. It suggests that even the choices of economists, many of whom like to think that they and their fellows are among the most rational people in the world, are affected by looks.
Good thing I'm not planning on running for any kind of office....


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