Economists say beautiful people are happier

March 30, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Good-looking people are generally happier than their plain looking or unattractive counterparts, largely because of the higher salaries, other economic benefits and more successful spouses that come with beauty, according to new research from economists at The University of Texas at Austin.

This holds true for both men and women and across different cultures, authors Daniel Hamermesh and Jason Abrevaya report in their paper "'Beauty is the Promise of Happiness'?," [PDF] which they are releasing to economists this week. The paper is posted at http://ftp.iza.org/dp5600.pdf [PDF], the Web site for the German-based Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

"Personal beauty raises ," says Hamermesh. "The majority of beauty's effect on happiness works through its impact on economic outcomes."

In previous research, Hamermesh has established that better-looking people generally earn more money and marry better-looking and higher earning spouses than others. His upcoming work, Beauty Pays: Why Attractive People are More Successful, will be released this summer by Princeton University Press.

The current study suggests these indirect, account for at least half of the additional happiness that good-looking people report. Beauty affects women's happiness more directly than men's.

The findings come as some and economists advocate for countries to begin measuring national happiness alongside their economic productivity. The authors suggest that may not be a worthwhile measurement.

"While there are many good reasons to avoid combining measures with measures of subjective well being," they write, "our discussion showing the importance of this one, essentially immutable determinant of happiness (beauty) suggests that focusing on creating a happier society may not be fruitful."

The economists analyzed data from five surveys conducted by in the U.S., Canada, Germany and Britain. These surveys asked more than 25,000 thousand participants about their levels of happiness and also either required an interviewer to rate participants' attractiveness or evaluate their beauty from their pictures.

The top 15 percent of people ranked by looks are over 10 percent happier than people ranked in the bottom 10 percent of looks, researchers say.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Suicidal thoughts rapidly reduced with ketamine, finds study

December 14, 2017
Ketamine was significantly more effective than a commonly used sedative in reducing suicidal thoughts in depressed patients, according to researchers at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC). They also found that ketamine's ...

Do bullies have more sex?

December 14, 2017
Adolescents who are willing to exploit others for personal gain are more likely to bully and have sex than those who score higher on a measure of honesty and humility. This is according to a study in Springer's journal Evolutionary ...

Children's screen-time guidelines too restrictive, according to new research

December 14, 2017
Digital screen use is a staple of contemporary life for adults and children, whether they are browsing on laptops and smartphones, or watching TV. Paediatricians and scientists have long expressed concerns about the impact ...

The iceberg model of self-harm

December 14, 2017
Researchers have created a model of self-harm that shows high levels of the problem in the community, especially in young girls, and the need for school-based prevention measures.

Eating together as a family helps children feel better, physically and mentally

December 14, 2017
Children who routinely eat their meals together with their family are more likely to experience long-term physical and mental health benefits, a new Canadian study shows.

Anti-stress compound reduces obesity and diabetes

December 13, 2017
For the first time, scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Munich could prove that a stress protein found in muscle has a diabetes promoting effect. This finding could pave the way to a completely new treatment ...

3 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Doug_Huffman
not rated yet Mar 30, 2011
Ignorance is bliss, bliss is ignorance. Is blond/e beautiful?
JRDarby
not rated yet Mar 30, 2011
Blond/e is a symbol, just like beauty. Blond/e shows youth, a trait desirable to men in women; beauty shows good genes. Men don't love beautiful women because they're beautiful: they love them because they push the right buttons in their limbic systems.

All this goes to say that those born with the right genes have a better shot at life.
alanborky
not rated yet Apr 03, 2011
This's all about assumptions.

First, salary: a little while back there was report about people complaining how unfair life was because they worked so hard and only earned $4 million a year whereas Bill Gates' billions were increasing every day without him doing a thing to deserve it.

Next, beauty: you only have to personally know a few of these 'beautiful people' to know how deeply unhappy they are, spending all day in front of the mirror in fear of signs of ageing, (ecstatic when they think they look good, grief stricken when their hair's having a 'bad day'), endlessly surfing the net for means to preserve their beauty, (as well as secretly searching for information on when they should commit to plastic surgery programs), endlessly soliciting compliments to boost their endlessly flagging self-esteem, endlessly jostling to present their face's best side, to be as near as possible to, or as far as possible from, someone whose beauty they feel will compliment or distract from their own

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.