Beauty is the Promise of Happiness

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IZA Seminar

Place: Schaumburg-Lippe-Str. 9, 53113 Bonn

Date: 18.01.2011, 12:15 - 13:30


Presentation by 

Daniel S. Hamermesh (Barnard College)


We measure the impact of individuals’ looks on their life satisfaction or happiness. Using four data sets, the Quality of American Life surveys from the 1970s, the British National Child Development Study, and the Wisconsin Longitudinal Survey, we construct the beauty measures in different ways that allow putting a lower bound on the true effects of beauty. Personal beauty raises happiness, with a one standarddeviation change in beauty generating about 0.07 standard deviations of additional satisfaction/happiness among men, 0.09 among women. Accounting for covariates that might be affected by differences in beauty, particularly effects in the labor and marriage markets, these impacts are at least halved. At least the majority of the effect of beauty is through economic outcomes, broadly defined.

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