The “Beauty Privilege” is real, says an economics professor who has researched the topic for more than 20 years.
University of Texas Professor Daniel Hamermesh says beautiful people make more money and are happier than their plain counterparts.
“Personal beauty raises happiness,” Hamermesh wrote in his book Beauty Pays. “The majority of beauty’s effect on happiness works through its impact on economic outcomes.”
Economics Professor: ‘Beauty Premium’ Is About $230,000
Hamermesh estimates the “beauty premium” at about $230,000 over a lifetime. In other words, a beautiful man or woman makes roughly $230,000 more during their career than their plain-looking counterparts.
Beautiful women earn 4% more than their plain colleagues, while handsome men earn 3% more, Hamermesh wrote.
Looking good pays social dividends as well, as attractive people enjoy more perks such as party invitations, business travel and better office privileges, said Hamermesh.
‘Survival of the Prettiest’
Attractive people also tend to marry other attractive people, therefore conferring their advantageous genes on to the next generation, author Nancy Etcoff wrote in Survival of the Prettiest.
However, Hamermesh said his findings are based on generalities and not specific examples.
For instance, Microsoft founder Bill Gates is far wealthier than actor Brad Pitt, but that doesn’t mean the beauty premium doesn’t exist.
The Golden Ratio
The Golden Ratio is a mathematical ratio that appears in beautiful faces relating to the symmetry and proportion of facial features.
“We don’t talk about individuals,” explains Hamermesh. “We talk about the average good-looking person and the average bad-looking person. There are always outliers.”
Professor: Natural Beauty Trumps Fake Beauty
So should plain people should rush out to get loads of plastic surgery to look better? Hamermesh says no. Apparently, natural good looks trumps artificial attractiveness.
“I know all the cosmetics folks and clothes folks say they can make you prettier, but the evidence for it just isn’t there,” said Hamermesh. “It doesn’t help much.
“Your beauty is determined to a tremendous extent by the shape of your face, by its symmetry and how everything hangs together.”
Does that mean that beauty is the holy grail to a life of happiness and fulfillment? Not at all. Hamermesh says people who obsess over their looks are usually unhappy.
— HVY (@HVYCOM) April 12, 2019
One look at the sad history of famous beautiful people like Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley —- and mostly recently, Swedish musician Avicii — shows that lasting happiness does not come from beauty, wealth, or fame.
HVY will explore the secrets to happiness and personal fulfillment in forthcoming posts. So stay tuned.