The College Admissions Contribution to the Labor Market Beauty Premium

34 Pages Posted: 19 Mar 2020 Last revised: 27 Oct 2021

See all articles by David Ong

David Ong

Jinan University-University of Birmingham Joint Institute

Date Written: February 6, 2020

Abstract

Beautiful people earn more. Surprisingly, this premium is larger for men than for women and is independent of the degree of customer contact. Overlooked is the possibility that beauty can influence college admissions. We explore this potential academic contributor to the labor market beauty earnings premium by sampling 1,800 social media profiles of alumni from universities ranked from 1 to 200 in China and the US. Chinese universities use only standardized test scores for admissions. In contrast, US universities use also grades and extracurricular activities, which are not necessarily beauty-blind. Consistent with beauty-blind admissions, alumni’s beauty is uncorrelated with the rank of college attended in China. In the US, White men from higher ranked colleges are better-looking. As expected, the correlation is insignificant for White men who attended tech colleges and is highest for those who attended private colleges. We also find that White women and minorities of either gender are not better-looking at higher ranked colleges. Our evidence suggests a college admissions contribution to the labor market beauty premium for US White men, but not for alumni in China of either gender, White women, or minorities of either gender in the US, or for White men who attended technical colleges. We discuss how a college admissions preference for athletes can explain our findings.

Keywords: beauty premium, labor market discrimination, college admission, college sports

JEL Classification: J71, I24, Z22

Suggested Citation

Ong, David, The College Admissions Contribution to the Labor Market Beauty Premium (February 6, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3521798 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3521798

David Ong (Contact Author)

Jinan University-University of Birmingham Joint Institute ( email )

Jinan University
University City, Panyu
Guangzhou, Guangdong 510632
China

HOME PAGE: http://https://birmingham.jnu.edu.cn/

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