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Beauty is the Promise of Happiness?

47 Pages Posted: 4 Apr 2011  

Daniel S. Hamermesh

University of Texas at Austin - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Jason Abrevaya

University of Texas at Austin

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: March 1, 2011

Abstract

We measure the impact of individuals' looks on their life satisfaction or happiness. Using five data sets from the U.S., Canada, the U.K., and Germany, we construct beauty measures in different ways that allow putting a lower bound on the true effects of beauty on happiness. Personal beauty raises happiness, with a one standard-deviation change in beauty generating about 0.10 standard deviations of additional satisfaction/happiness among men, 0.12 among women. Accounting for a wide variety of covariates, including those that might be affected by differences in beauty, and particularly effects in the labor and marriage markets, the impact among men is more than halved, among women slightly less than halved. The majority of the effect of beauty on happiness may work through its effects on economic outcomes.

Keywords: life satisfaction, measurement error, looks

JEL Classification: I30, J10, C20

Suggested Citation

Hamermesh, Daniel S. and Abrevaya , Jason, Beauty is the Promise of Happiness? (March 1, 2011). IZA Discussion Paper No. 5600. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1801666

Daniel S. Hamermesh (Contact Author)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

University of Texas at Austin - Department of Economics ( email )

Austin, TX 78712
United States
512-475-8526 (Phone)
512-471-3510 (Fax)

Jason Abrevaya

University of Texas at Austin ( email )

Austin, TX 78712
United States

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