HR Strange But True!
April 08, 2005

An analysis by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis suggests that good-looking people tend to make more money and get promoted more often than those with average looks.

For the April edition of The Regional Economist, the Fed's quarterly magazine, research analyst Kristie Engemann and economist Michael Owyang looked at the possible link between appearance and wages by evaluating previous surveys and research. Their conclusion: It helps to be tall, slender, and attractive.

It's no so clear, they said, whether it's a matter of bias against less-attractive people or of good-looking people developing self-confidence and social skills that simply enhance their marketability.

"It doesn't seem like anti-discrimination laws, even if you enforce them strictly, would be a magic bullet," Owyang told the Associated Press.

The researchers collected the results from a variety of studies. One found a "plainness penalty" of 9 percent in wages, meaning a person with below-average looks tended to earn 9 percent less than those with average looks. The same study found a "beauty premium" of 5 percent.

Another found that women who are obese earn 17 percent lower wages than women of average weight.

Several showed that height matters. One study looked at the height of 16-year-olds and the wages they earned later as adults. The taller teens went on to earn an average of 2.6 percent more per additional inch of height.

"Maybe they developed extra confidence early on that their shorter counterparts didn't have," Engemann said.

Source: The Associated Press, via Yahoo!

Stories like this underscore the importance of being on guard for subtle forms of discrimination. BLR can help, with Preventing Discrimination in the Workplace, a package containing PowerPoint® training presentations and booklets.
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