Are beautiful people happier? Do they make more money?

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We measure the impact of individuals’ looks on their life satisfaction or happiness. Using five data sets from the U.S., Canada, the U.K., and Germany, we construct beauty measures in different ways that allow putting a lower bound on the true effects of beauty on happiness. Personal beauty raises happiness, with a one standard-deviation change in beauty generating about 0.10 standard deviations of additional satisfaction/happiness among men, 0.12 among women. Accounting for a wide variety of covariates, including those that might be affected by differences in beauty, and particularly effects in the labor and marriage markets, the impact among men is more than halved, among women slightly less than halved. The majority of the effect of beauty on happiness may work through its effects on economic outcomes.

NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY
We measure the impact of individuals’ looks on their life satisfaction or happiness using various sets of data from the U.S., Canada, the U.K., and Germany. The results show that:

1. Personal beauty raises happiness.

2. The majority of this positive effect comes about because personal beauty improves economic outcomes – incomes, marriage prospects, and others – that increase happiness. Thus much of the positive effect of beauty on happiness is indirect – through its effects on aspects of economic life that increase happiness.

3. The total effects of beauty on happiness are about the same for men and women. But the direct effect is larger among women – beauty affects their happiness independent of its impact on their incomes, marriage prospects, and other outcomes. Because the beauty measures are collected in a variety of ways, and because happiness is also measured in various ways, we can be quite confident in the general validity of the conclusions.

Source: “Beauty Is the Promise of Happiness”? from IZA Discussion Paper No. 5600 March 2011

And if you’re wondering why I put a photo of a hot woman on this post and not a photo of a hot man, there’s a reason.

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