You know how pretty people always seem to get ahead for no other reason than the fact that they are pretty? New research shows that pretty people — judged for their symmetry and such — regularly outearn uglies. Well, as Charlie Wilson used to say, "You can teach 'em to type, but you can't teach 'em to grow tits," right? But there's more to it than that, says the Economist in a story that claims that there are all sorts of new scary studies proving that beauty and intelligence go together. See, historically, smart men used to breed with pretty women, and beauty has always been unfairly rewarded, so pretty people just make shitloads more money because as the story points out, life ain't fair and "there is a feedback loop between biology and the social environment that gives to those who have, and takes from those who have not." But here's the interesting part! Some countries are different from others. The "beauty premium" commanded by the pretty wage earners in the U.K. is a mere 1%. (Can we thank Posh & Becks for this?) In China, it is highest, at 10%. (Can we thank "socialism with Chinese characteristics" for this?)
Fascinatingly, in the U.S., where historically we've equated beauty with mental retardation, the "beauty premium" is less for women than it is for men.
So how do uglies fight back? (The uglies get a worse discount in most countries than the pretties ever get a premium, which sucks.) But they thought of that! In China, researchers discussed the effects of the skillful application of makeup and the like. They found it was generally impossible to recoup your investment in makeup and whatever else on salary alone.
He estimates that the beauty premium generated by such primping is worth only 15% of the money expended. Of course, beauty pays off in spheres of life other than the workplace. But that, best beloved, would be the subject of a rather different article.