Labour Economics 16 (2009) 373–382
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j o u r n a l h o m e p a g e : w w w. e l s ev i e r. c o m / l o c a t e / l a b e c o
Effects of physical attractiveness, personality, and grooming on academic performance in high school
Michael T. French a,⁎, Philip K. Robins b, Jenny F. Homer c, Lauren M. Tapsell d a
University of Miami, Department of Sociology, 5202 University Drive, Merrick Building, Room 121F, P.O. Box 248162, Coral Gables, FL, 33124-2030, USA Department of Economics, University of Miami, Jenkins Building, 5250 University Drive, Coral Gables, FL 33146-6550, USA Health Economics Research Group, Sociology Research Center, University of Miami, 5665 Ponce de Leon Blvd., Flipse Building, Room 104, Coral Gables, FL 33124-0719, USA d
Health Economics Research Group, Sociology Research Center, University of Miami, 5665 Ponce de Leon Blvd., Flipse Building, Room 112, Coral Gables, FL 33124-0719, USA b
a r t i c l e
i n f o
Received 13 February 2008
Received in revised form 6 January 2009
Accepted 9 January 2009
Available online 20 January 2009
High school grades
a b s t r a c t
Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), we investigate whether certain aspects of personal appearance (i.e., physical attractiveness, personality, and grooming) affect a student's cumulative grade point average (GPA) in high school. When physical attractiveness is entered into the model as the only measure of personal appearance (as has been done in previous studies), it has a positive and statistically signiﬁcant impact on GPA for female students and a positive yet not statistically signiﬁcant effect for male students. Including personality and grooming, the effect of physical attractiveness turns negative for both groups, but is only statistically signiﬁcant for males. For male and female students, being very well groomed is associated with a statistically signiﬁcant GPA premium. While grooming has the largest effect on GPA for male students, having a very attractive personality is most important for female students. Numerous sensitivity analyses support the core results for grooming and personality. Possible explanations for these ﬁndings include teacher discrimination, differences in student objectives, and rational resource allocation decisions.
© 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
1. Introduction and background
In recent years, economists have expanded the study of labor market discrimination to include the effects of physical attractiveness or beauty. The seminal paper by Hamermesh and Biddle (1994) examines the effects of physical attractiveness on earnings and ﬁnds a “plainness penalty” of 5–10% and a slightly lower “beauty premium” for both males and females in the workplace. How much (if any) of the estimated earnings effects reﬂects discrimination, occupational crowding, or productivity differences is uncertain, although Hamermesh and Biddle's analysis suggests that some degree of employer discrimination is present. Since the original study, Hamermesh and his colleagues have investigated similar topics ranging from the impact of lawyers' appearance on their salaries to the likelihood of attractive politicians being elected (Biddle and Hamermesh, 1998; Hamermesh, 2006; Hamermesh et al., 2002; Hamermesh and Parker, 2005; Pfann et al., 2000). Other recent studies include French (2002), who analyzes self-reported appearance data and ﬁnds a beauty premium for female, but not male workers, and Mobius and Rosenblat (2006), who investigate the possible causes of a ⁎ Corresponding author. Tel.: +1 305 284 6039; fax: +1 305 284 5310. E-mail addresses: firstname.lastname@example.org (M.T. French), email@example.com (P.K. Robins), firstname.lastname@example.org (J.F. Homer), email@example.com (L.M. Tapsell)....
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