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Attractive People Make More Money, Says Totally Unsurprising Study


Recent research found that looks matter when it comes to who pulls in the big bucks — and that the differences start as early as high school.


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The monograph, entitled Physical Attractiveness and the Accumulation of Social and Human Capital in Adolescence and Young Adulthood: Assets and Distractions, combined statistical analysis of the data from National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health with data gleaned from the study of high school students. In a briefing on the Council for Contemporary Family’s website, study authors Rachel A. Gordon and Robert Crosnoe explain:

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“While we may think that the superficiality of high school social hierarchies wears off as people age, we find that youth rated as better looking get higher grades and are more likely to attain a college degree than their peers, setting the stage for better economic outcomes through adulthood. In fact, the difference in GPA and college graduation rates between youth rated by others as attractive versus average in looks is similar to the differences in academic achievement between youth raised in two-parent versus single-parent families!”

This early attractiveness bonus translated into a wage bump later in life. The study found that adult women gained an 8 percent wage bonus for being attractive, and experienced a 4 percent penalty for being unattractive. Men had a 4 percent bonus and a 13 percent penalty.

CBS News points out that everything isn’t always rosy for more attractive workers, especially women: a Citibank employee said she was fired in 2010 for being too attractive.

Sometimes, it appears, even attractive people can’t win.

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Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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