Free DP Download 11 March 2021 - DO LOOKS MATTER FOR AN ACADEMIC CAREER IN ECONOMICS?

Thursday, March 11, 2021

DO LOOKS MATTER FOR AN ACADEMIC CAREER IN ECONOMICS?
Galina B Hale, Tali Regev, Yona Rubinstein
CEPR DP No. 15893 March 2021

Academic scholars' success may depend somewhat on their looks, new research shows. More attractive individuals are found to be more likely to get jobs at more prestigious institutions as many as 15 years after their graduation. While good looking economists also tend to have a higher research output.

These are among the findings of a new CEPR study by Galina B Hale, Tali Regev and Yona Rubinstein, which tests whether more attractive individuals are more likely to succeed in the economics profession, using data on PhD graduates from ten of the top economics departments in the United States. Among the findings: 

  • There is robust evidence that appearance has predictive power for job outcomes and research productivity. 
  • Attractive individuals are more likely to study at higher ranked PhD institutions and are more likely to be placed at higher-ranking academic institutions not only for their first job, but also for jobs as many as 15 years after their graduation, even when we control for the ranking of PhD institution and first job. 
  • Appearance also predicts the success of research output: More attractive economists are cited more overall and per publication.
  • Importantly, the number of papers is not predicted by appearance, suggesting the association is between appearance and success rather than appearance and effort.
  • All these effects are robust, statistically significant, and substantial in magnitude.

Why would appearance matter for academic economists' success? The literature suggests that beauty matters in the labour market because good looks are appreciated by co-workers, bosses and customers. Being beautiful attracts positive feedback and fosters positive interactions with others and thus boosts an individual's confidence and charisma and hence effectiveness in every aspect needing human interaction. Better-looking people are therefore more likely to be hired and, when hired, to get higher wages. With academic careers, appearance may work in similar ways. 

 


 

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