Beauty and the Labor Market Essay

Words: 1524
Pages: 7

The article “Beauty and the Labor Market” by Daniel S. Hamermesh and Jeff E. Biddle examines the economics of discrimination in the labour market based on looks and the relationship that exists between beauty and labour market earnings. Analyzing, results from several studies, data from various empirical research and surveys; the article identifies the source of earnings differentials related to looks in six distinct and detailed sections. The first section addresses the question of whether it is possible to use measures of beauty to analyze the role of looks in the labour market. Since, it would be futile to examine the effect of beauty on employment if there is no mutual agreement on what defines beauty. Using data from
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An attractive sales person might sell products more successfully than an unattractive one, while a bad looking candidate might have a harder time getting votes. Hence, if workers are able to produce more value for their employers by working better with clients, colleagues and customers due to their good-looks, one might argue that it is appropriate to reward beauty. The article examines the impact of looks on earnings using interviewers' ratings of respondents’ physical appearance. However, we need data on job performance to decide whether the wage differential is due to Becker-type discrimination stemming from employer/employee tastes or due to differences in productivity. To do this we can examine a set of workers performing a specific task that requires a skill which is uncorrelated with physical attractiveness, while controlling for worker characteristics and confidence. An example of such an experiment could be paying workers to solve as many computer mazes as possible during a specific time period. Employers estimate the productivity of workers and set wages accordingly. The degree of visual and oral interaction is varied between the employers and workers during the experiment in order to isolate the effect of beauty during the wage negotiation process. To measure workers confidence, workers solve a practice maze and estimate their future