Handsome men earn more

2013

Men whose looks are rated as being above average earn considerably more than their less attractive counterparts, according to new research from the University of Melbourne.

Economists Jeff Borland and Andrew Leigh found that men with above-average looks earn an average of $81,750 – some 22 per cent more than average. In contrast, men with below-average looks make just $49,600 - 26 per cent less than average - a difference of more than $32,000.

But the bad news for unattractive men doesn't end there. Borland and Leigh also found that men with below-average looks were 15 per cent less likely than normal to be employed, less likely to be married and less likely to be married to a woman with a high income.

"I found something similar when I looked at the effect of politicians' appearance on their electability," Dr Leigh told the Sydney Morning Herald.

"Good looks helped male candidates more than they helped women. It could be that attractive women come up against the stereotype that they can't be both attractive and intelligent. There's no such thing as the dumb-blond syndrome for men."

The findings are consistent with other international research. In 2005, a study by the Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis found that good-looking, slim, tall people earn around five per cent more per hour than their less attractive colleagues. Another study found that for every 10 per cent increase in body mass index (BMI), a man loses 3.27 per cent in earnings, and a woman 1.86 per cent.

What lies behind this "plainness penalty" was spelt out in research by the University of Florida, which found that even accounting for intelligence, a person's feeling of self-worth is enhanced by how attractive they are and this, in turn, results in higher pay.

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