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Sunday, February 2, 2014

It Helps to Be Pretty, Even if You're an NFL Quarterback

A recent study by sports economist, Dave Berri, found that good looking quarterbacks get paid more than poor looking ones, all else being equal. It's not the biggest factor: arm strength, accuracy, the ability to run, winning lots of games are all more important, but if you take two quarterbacks of equal ability, the better looking one almost always makes more money. According to Berri, an increase in a quarterback's facial symmetry scores (one measure of looks) of 3.2 translates to $378,000 in additional pay. Not a huge bump in pay (at least not for an NFL quarterback), but it's nothing to sneeze at either.

Unfortunately, the beauty bonus plays out in almost all walks of life. Attractive people are, on average, happier, wealthier, more popular, and so on. One would hope that this wasn't so, but a wealth of studies suggest that it is. The beauty bonus is the subject of the latest Freakonomics podcast ("Reasons to Not Be Ugly"). In addition to David Berri, you'll hear from Daniel Hamermesh, an economist at the University of Texas and author of Beauty Pays: Why Attractive People Are More Successful. You’ll hear from Erdal Tekin, an economist at Georgia State University and co-author, with Naci Mocan, of a paper called “Ugly Criminals,” which ties a person’s looks to their propensity for crime. As always, you can download the podcast from iTunes or listen to it at the Freakonomics website ("Reasons to Not Be Ugly").

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