The College Admissions Contribution to the Labor Market Beauty Premium
33 Pages Posted: 19 Mar 2020 Last revised: 10 Jun 2020
Date Written: February 6, 2020
Beautiful people earn more. Surprisingly, this premium is larger for men than for women and is independent of the degree of customer contact. Overlooked is the possibility that beauty can influence college admissions. We explore this academic contributor to the labor market beauty earnings premium by sampling 1,800 social media profiles of students from universities ranked from 1 to 200 in China and the US. Chinese universities use only standardized test scores for admissions. In contrast, US universities use also grades and extracurricular activities, which are not necessarily beauty-blind. Consistent with beauty-blind admissions, alumni’s beauty is uncorrelated with the rank of college attended in China. In the US, White men from higher ranked colleges are better-looking. As expected, the correlation is insignificant for White men who attended tech colleges and is highest for those who attended private colleges. We also find that White women and minorities of either gender are not better-looking at higher ranked colleges. Our evidence indicates a college admissions contribution to the labor market beauty premium for US White men, but not for students in China of either gender, White women, or minorities of either gender in the US, or for White men who attended technology colleges. We discuss the college admissions preference for athletes as a potential channel for the positive correlation we find between college and beauty rank for White men.
Keywords: beauty premium, labor market discrimination, college admission, college sports
JEL Classification: J71, I24, Z22
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