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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Men: look better and make more money

A lot has been said over the years on the idea that there is a positive earnings premium in the business world associated with being physically attractive or well groomed. What I had never seen until now was a scientific study from a reputable source quantifying this effect.

This is exactly what Markus Mobius, an economics professor from Harvard has just done. Markus research is published in the American Economic Review (quite a reputable source: http://www.aeaweb.org/aer/ search for "Why Beauty Matters").

Prof. Mobius quantified this "beauty premium" at a maximum of 17%, and that, is a big number!

Mobius further disaggregated these results, and concluded that up to 40% of the beauty premium was attributable to a perception by the employers that physically attractive workers were more productive. But the other 60% of the premium had to do with the fact that better looking candidates tended to be more confident and have better perceived communication and social skills.
I think few men would debate the idea that looking better (through a grooming, and skincare regimen for example) translates into higher earnings in the marketplace. But my hypothesis is that most of us (this includes me sitting unshaven as I type these lines...are not approaching this opportunity as a high-return investment. Basically, that spending a couple of minutes and a few cents in high quality men's grooming products on a daily basis could translate into hundreds of dollars of a "beauty premium" over the life of an average man. What do you think?

FS

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