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

Abusive avatars help schizophrenics fight 'voices': study

November 24, 2017
"You're rubbish. You're rubbish. You're a waste of space." The computer avatar pulls no punches as it lays into the young woman, a schizophrenia sufferer, facing the screen.

Ten-month-old infants determine the value of a goal from how hard someone works to achieve it

November 23, 2017
Babies as young as 10 months can assess how much someone values a particular goal by observing how hard they are willing to work to achieve it, according to a new study from MIT and Harvard University.

Stress in pregnancy linked to changes in infant's nervous system, less smiling, less resilience

November 23, 2017
Maternal stress during the second trimester of pregnancy may influence the nervous system of the developing child, both before and after birth, and may have subtle effects on temperament, resulting in less smiling and engagement, ...

Domestic violence turns women off masculine men

November 23, 2017
Women who are afraid of violence within partnerships prefer more feminine men, according to new research carried out by scientists at the University of St Andrews.

Study finds infection and schizophrenia symptom link

November 22, 2017
If a mother's immune system is activated by infection during pregnancy, it could result in critical cognitive deficits linked to schizophrenia in her offspring, a University of Otago study has revealed.

Schizophrenia drug development may be 'de-risked' with new research tool

November 22, 2017
Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) and the New York State Psychiatric Institute (NYSPI) have identified biomarkers that can aid in the development of better treatments for schizophrenia.

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.