Does Beauty Matter in Undergraduate Education?

22 Pages Posted: 7 Feb 2015

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: April 2015


Physically attractive individuals achieve greater success in terms of earnings and status than those who are less attractive. However, whether this “beauty premium” arises primarily because of differences in ability or confidence, bias, or sorting remains unknown. We use a rich dataset from a women’s college to evaluate each of these three mechanisms at the college level. We find that students judged to be more attractive perform significantly worse on standardized tests but, conditional on test scores, are not evaluated more favorably at the point of admission, suggesting that more attractive people do not possess greater abilities at the beginning of college. Controlling for test scores, more attractive students receive only marginally better grades in some specifications, and the magnitudes of the differences are very small. Finally, there is substantial beauty-based sorting into areas of study and occupations.

JEL Classification: J16, I21, I23

Suggested Citation

Deryugina, Tatyana and Shurchkov, Olga, Does Beauty Matter in Undergraduate Education? (April 2015). Economic Inquiry, Vol. 53, Issue 2, pp. 940-961, 2015, Available at SSRN: or

Tatyana Deryugina (Contact Author)

University of Illinois ( email )

1206 South Sixth Street
Champaign, IL 61820
United States


Olga Shurchkov

Wellesley College ( email )

106 Central St., PNE 417
Wellesley, MA 02481
United States

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