Good looks can be their own kind of inherited asset, boosting income across the generations, a new study reveals.
Children of conventionally attractive parents earn more than those from more average-looking families, according to new research by the US-based National Bureau of Economic Research.
The study, entitled: “The Economic Impact of Heritable Physical Traits: Hot Parents, Rich Kid?” examined prior datasets which tracked the attractiveness of parents and their children, as well as the children’s earnings. It looked at families in both the United States and China, as well as among billionaires worldwide.
The attractiveness of parents and children was rated by other people, rather than determined by mathematical measurements such as the symmetry of their face. The research revealed that, for every standard deviation above average-looking that their parents rank, a child’s annual earnings increase by more than $2,300 (€2,113).
Economist Daniel Hamermesh, one of the report’s authors said that, in addition to assets such as property and savings, the study had revealed that good looks can be their own kind of inherited asset, boosting income across the generations.
“Better-looking people are more likely to be financially and professionally successful throughout their lives,” he explained.
“It’s twofold, your parents being good-looking makes you look good-looking, and that helps you do well. But it’s also because if your parents were good-looking, that means they have more money to give you,” added the researcher from the University of Texas at Austin.
Hamermesh has studied the link between success and good looks for more than 10 years and has repeatedly found that individuals who are attractive are more likely to be employed and to receive higher salaries than their less-attractive counterparts. He says that looks play a much larger role in our odds of success that many of us realise.
The author acknowledged the findings were “very depressing”, adding: “It’s exactly the same as any other kind of discrimination.”
Hamermesh is hopeful that the research findings will make people more aware of their bias toward better-looking people and make them more likely to correct it.
“If you’re conscious of the fact that you’re discriminating, you’re much less likely to do so,” he said. “I think just making people aware of something like this reduces its detrimental impact.”
Activists in the US have been calling for an extension of anti-discrimination laws to cover individual attributes. New York last year introduced measures to prevent discrimination based on weight in housing and employment. Several other states are considering similar laws.
Earlier studies have found there is a direct correlation between a woman’s weight and how much she earns.