Judging a Book by Its Cover: The Influence of Physical Attractiveness on the Promotion of Regional Leaders

40 Pages Posted: 7 Sep 2016 Last revised: 8 Dec 2018

See all articles by Leng Ling

Leng Ling

Georiga College & State University

Danglun Luo

Sun Yat-sen University (SYSU)

Guoman She

The University of Hong Kong - Faculty of Business and Economics

Date Written: November 9, 2018

Abstract

Exploring a city-leader linked dataset that consists of 981 Chinese senior government officials for the period 1999–2013, we investigate the influence of these officials’ appearance on their career mobility. After controlling for personal characteristics and the ability to promote economy, we find that more attractive officials have a higher chance of winning promotion, and this beauty effect is more pronounced on those whose ability is below average. We also find that beauty plays a bigger role at the regions where mass media is more prosperous and developed. However, there is no relation between an official’s attractiveness and his ability. Our findings support the tasted-based theory of discrimination in labor market and imply that the appearance-based bias can lead to inefficiency when the Chinese hierarchy screens its political elites.

Keywords: Beauty, Discrimination, Labor Markets, China

JEL Classification: D72, J45, J71

Suggested Citation

Ling, Leng and Luo, Danglun and She, Guoman, Judging a Book by Its Cover: The Influence of Physical Attractiveness on the Promotion of Regional Leaders (November 9, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2834626 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2834626

Leng Ling (Contact Author)

Georiga College & State University ( email )

Milledgeville, GA 31061-0490
United States

Danglun Luo

Sun Yat-sen University (SYSU) ( email )

135, Xingang Xi Road
Guangzhou, 510275

Guoman She

The University of Hong Kong - Faculty of Business and Economics ( email )

Pokfulam Road
Hong Kong
China

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