People were more attractive 4,000 years ago

Looking good not only increases the chances of meeting the opposite sex - beautiful people also have a clear advantage at work. This is shown by a study by the Leuphana University of Lüneburg, which will shortly be published in the Applied Economics Letters is published. Accordingly, attractive women and men are significantly less likely to be unemployed. In addition, they earn significantly more on average than unsightly colleagues.

For his analysis, the Lüneburg economist Christian Pfeifer evaluated data from the so-called Allbus survey ("General population survey of the social sciences"), in which interviewers randomly survey more than 3000 men and women from all over Germany every two years.

In personal conversations, they collect information about the participants' salaries and employment status, among other things. In addition, they record how attractive they - from their own personal perspective - find their conversation partner. You can assign up to 11 points (1 point = very unattractive; 11 points = very attractive).

Pfeifer has now put these data in relation to one another - with an astonishingly clear result: "Even a single attraction point increases the probability of employment by three percentage points on average," he is quoted on the university's homepage. "Five more points - that's about the difference between a dozen-faced face and outspoken beauty - help just as much when looking for a job as a degree.

Beauty is also clearly reflected in the monthly income: the monthly salary increases by an average of three percent per attractiveness point. If you just look at the men, this "beauty bonus" is even more pronounced.

Does attractiveness lead to good performance?

According to the study, the salary drop is particularly serious for unsightly contemporaries - it is more of an "ugliness penalty". Men with an already average appearance, on the other hand, would hardly benefit from a facelift.

But what are the reasons for the relationship between employment, salary and appearance? "There are various theories on this," says Pfeifer. "Maybe good-looking people just make a better impression at an interview. They come across as more personable." The future boss does not need to be aware of this, he may think that he only decided on the basis of the applicants' competence.

Pfeifer, on the other hand, interprets in a completely different way why attractiveness also affects the salary - but without providing evidence for his claim: "That tends to indicate that attractive employees actually do more on average," says Pfeifer. Perhaps the higher self-confidence of good-looking people contributes to greater productivity.