“Sexy parents” give their children a premium income: study

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If time is money, then so is beauty. And this is especially true when it comes to… your parents?

In fact, yes. Having biologically “attractive” parents is estimated to make you substantially more money than people with regular rent — and much more than those with below-average looks, according to a new study.

Economic research has long linked conventional attractiveness to success in the workplace. (Nice people are often paid more, get better jobs, and get promoted more quickly.) But a recently published working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research, or NBER, goes a step further by quantifying exactly how much it pays to be part of a handsome clan.

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“In monetary terms,” the researchers wrote, having parents considered conventionally attractive “is equivalent to more than $2,300 per year, or an extra income of $106,000 over an average working lifetime.”

The benefits of attractive parents are twofold, says Daniel Hamermesh, a co-author of the report and a researcher at the NBER, who has studied the connection between earnings and attractiveness for decades.

First, in what he calls the “direct” benefits of having good-looking parents: You’ll likely be more attractive yourself, and “this will allow you to earn more,” he tells Money in an email. Secondly, your attractive parents are likely to have earned more money because of They attractiveness and therefore have more money to give you. Cha-ching.

“Attractive parents, rich kid?”

Hamermesh and co-author Anwen Zhang made the discovery by first demonstrating that parents’ beauty is, in fact, passed on to their children. They analyzed four datasets from the United States and China, in which people were shown photos or videos of parents and their children and asked to rate their attractiveness.

Their analysis found that parents whose attractiveness was rated 10 percentage points above average had biological children rated 4 percentage points more attractive than average. The researchers then compared these results with household income data to determine exactly how profitable that good look was.

Despite the paper’s playful subtitle: “Hot Parents, Rich Kid?” – Hamermesh calls the results “depressing” because they lead to the perpetuation of inequality. While attractive people and their children tend to earn more money than average-looking people, he says the opposite is also true.

“If your parents are both in the bottom third of the look, you’ll make about $2,300 a year less than someone whose parents are both average,” Hamermesh says.

And, of course, that income gap could expand to more than $4,600 a year – or more than $200,000 in average lifetime earnings – if you compare incomes among people with above-average-looking parents with those with below average looking parents.

“This intergenerational impact explains a substantial part of the inheritance inequality,” he says. “It is disturbing to find yet another characteristic that reduces opportunities between generations.”

In other words, racial and social inequalities are rooted in society’s perception of who is and who is not beautiful. And if you don’t fit the mold, it could literally cost your family thousands of dollars.

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