May 27, 2008

Earn More: Fix Your Teeth!

The Freakonomics Blog at NYT has an interesting write-up of what they call Beauty Premiums: the benefits enjoyed by being attractive. One of the most objective ways to measure beauty's benefit is to simply look at wages, and this is what the Freakos do, in a series of provocative if not outright-disturbing studies.

Tall people turn out to be big beneficiaries, with the interesting stipulation that your height advantage has to begin in adolescence, because lifetime self esteem is heavily developed during this time. If you're a tall kid, you get a self esteem boost, which translates directly into a wage boost (according to the study).

Another clever study looked at the impact of fluoridated water on future wages (if you're not aware, fluoridation has a huge impact on teeth, especially for poor people who otherwise can't afford good dental care). The results of areas which switched to fluoridated water? A wages boost in the next crop of kids.

So if you're not beautiful, get your teeth fixed. At least you'll make more money. Then, your self esteem will improve. Which is as good as being beautiful, and even if it's not, you'll have enough money to upgrade your appearance, so there you go.

All this talk of beauty and wages can be discouraging, but according to Freakonomics there is at least one bit of good news: people with unusual or ridiculous names do not suffer a wage penalty (so X-Man McGillicuty has nothing to worry about, apparently).

Here at SierraDescents, I've adopted a slightly different strategy: I prefer to simply assume I'm extremely attractive, rather than putting any work into actually being attractive (like wearing expensive clothes, getting cosmetic surgery, showering, combing my hair, etc). I've been quite happy with the results—though it is best not to examine yourself in the mirror too closely. :)


Andy Lewicky

ANDY LEWICKY is a Los Angeles-based writer and photographer who enjoys good books, jasmine tea, long walks in the rain, and climbing and skiing the big peaks of the California Sierra. email | follow

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