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Beauty, Job Tasks, and Wages: A New Conclusion about Employer Taste-Based Discrimination

Todd Stinebrickner (), Ralph Stinebrickner and Paul Sullivan

No 24479, NBER Working Papers from National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc

Abstract: We use novel data from the Berea Panel Study to reexamine the labor market mechanisms generating the beauty wage premium. We find that the beauty premium varies widely across jobs with different task requirements. Specifically, in jobs where existing research such as Hamermesh and Biddle (1994) has posited that attractiveness is plausibly a productivity enhancing attribute—those that require substantial amounts of interpersonal interaction—a large beauty premium exists. In contrast, in jobs where attractiveness seems unlikely to truly enhance productivity—jobs that require working with information and data—there is no beauty premium. This stark variation in the beauty premium across jobs is inconsistent with the employer-based discrimination explanation for the beauty premium, because this theory predicts that all jobs will favor attractive workers. Our approach is made possible by unique longitudinal task data, which was collected to address the concern that measurement error in variables describing the importance of interpersonal tasks would tend to bias results towards finding a primary role for employer taste-based discrimination. As such, it is perhaps not surprising that our conclusions about the importance of employer taste-based discrimination are in stark contrast to all previous research that has utilized a similar conceptual approach.

JEL-codes: J24 J7 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-lma
Date: 2018-04
Note: LS
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
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Published as Ralph Stinebrickner & Todd Stinebrickner & Paul Sullivan, 2019. "Beauty, Job Tasks, and Wages: A New Conclusion about Employer Taste-Based Discrimination," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 101(4), pages 602-615, October.
Published as Ralph Stinebrickner & Todd Stinebrickner & Paul Sullivan, 2019. "Beauty, Job Tasks, and Wages: A New Conclusion about Employer Taste-Based Discrimination," The Review of Economics and Statistics, vol 101(4), pages 602-615.

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Journal Article: Beauty, Job Tasks, and Wages: A New Conclusion about Employer Taste-Based Discrimination (2019) Downloads
Working Paper: Beauty, Job Tasks, and Wages: A New Conclusion About Employer Taste-Based Discrimination (2017) Downloads
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