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
Date Written: November 9, 2018
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
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