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Beautiful people earn more, are happier, researcher finds

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It pays to be good looking. Roughly $230,000 U.S. to be exact, according to University of Texas-Austin economics professor Daniel Hamermesh.

Dr. Hamermesh's new book Beauty Pays, which draws upon his own research and a collection of international studies, determines that attractive people, on average, earn more money, are likely to be happier, get bank loans with lower interest rates, and marry good-looking, highly educated spouses, The Sydney Morning Herald reports.

Beautiful people, determined by facial symmetry and other less measurable factors such as "overall gestalt," are more productive and earn $230,000 U.S. more in a lifetime than those with below-average looks, Dr. Hamermesh says. In women, the gap is slightly wider, he finds. Attractive women earn four percent more than their average-looking counterparts, while good-looking men earn three percent more.

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The Sydney Morning Herald says there's a large body of research examining the impact of beauty and people's facial features on how they behave and are perceived.

One new study by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, for instance, found companies with chief executives who have higher facial widths tend to fare better financially.

If you're hoping to improve your earnings, however, plastic surgery and other cosmetic enhancements aren't likely to give you much of an advantage.

In an interview with USA Today earlier this year, Dr. Hamermesh noted he conducted a 2002 study to determine the effect of buying nicer clothes, hair and cosmetics.

"It doesn't help much," he said. "Your beauty is determined to a tremendous extent by the shape of your face, by its symmetry and how everything hangs together."

USA Today also reported that a separate study from the University of Maryland, College Park, found "plastic surgery is not profitable in a monetary sense."

Take a look around your workplace. Are good-looking people really better off?

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About the Author

Wency Leung is a general assignment reporter for the Life section. Before joining The Globe in early 2010, she has worked as a reporter in Vancouver, Prague, and Phnom Penh. More

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