Facial Attractiveness and CEO Compensation: Evidence from the Banking Industry

46 Pages Posted: 28 Jan 2021

See all articles by Shaker Ahmed

Shaker Ahmed

University of Vaasa

Mikko Ranta

University of Vaasa

Sami Vähämaa

University of Vaasa

Date Written: December 8, 2020

Abstract

This paper examines the effect of facial attractiveness on the compensation of bank Chief Executive Officers (CEOs). Consistent with the so-called beauty premium hypothesis, we document that good looks pay off for bank CEOs. Specifically, by utilizing machine learning to assess the facial appearance of the CEOs of large U.S. banks, we find that CEO facial attractiveness is positively associated with the annual total compensation and pay-performance sensitivity while being largely unrelated to the annual base salary. The total compensation of above-average looking bank CEOs is almost 17 percent higher than the compensation of CEOs with below-average looks after controlling for various CEO-specific and bank-specific attributes that are known to affect executive compensation. Overall, our empirical findings provide strong evidence for the existence of a beauty premium in the executive labor market.

Keywords: Facial attractiveness, CEO compensation, beauty premium, bank CEOs

JEL Classification: G01, G21, G30, G32

Suggested Citation

Ahmed, Shaker and Ranta, Mikko and Vähämaa, Sami, Facial Attractiveness and CEO Compensation: Evidence from the Banking Industry (December 8, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3744808 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3744808

Shaker Ahmed

University of Vaasa ( email )

P.O. Box 700
Wolffintie 34
FIN-65101 Vaasa, FI-65101
Finland

Mikko Ranta

University of Vaasa ( email )

P.O. Box 700
FIN-65101 Vaasa, FI-65101
Finland

Sami Vähämaa (Contact Author)

University of Vaasa ( email )

P.O. Box 700
Vaasa, FI-65101
Finland
+358 29 449 8455 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.univaasa.fi/~sami

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