Hot or Not: How appearance affects earnings and productivity in academia
The effect of hotness on pay and productivity
In this paper we examine the impact of a professor’s hotness, as rated by students, on his or her salary, controlling for research and teaching productivity. We also estimate the impacts of a professor’s hotness on the quality of his or her teaching, as evaluated by students, and the impact of hotness on research productivity, as measured by citations, publications, co-authorship, and grant funding. Our study is based on data describing economics professors at sixteen universities. Although a relatively small proportion of our sample is rated “hot” by students, hotness generates, for some, a significant earnings premium, even with comprehensive controls for productivity. We find a strong relationship between hotness and teaching productivity, but a much weaker relationship between hotness and research productivity. The unique contribution of this paper is the use of data on actual productivity, which is generally unavailable in papers assessing the returns to appearance.