Beauty, Brains and Bulges: Life Course Consequences of Adolescent Attractiveness, Ability and Obesity

Robert M. Hauser, University of Wisconsin at Madison

Across half a century, the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study (WLS) has obtained a rich record of educational attainment, family life, careers and health among 10,317 female and male high school graduates. Using high school yearbook photographs, we have added measures of facial attractiveness and facial mass. Facial mass in late adolescence is associated with early morbidity and mortality. This paper compares women and men across a wider set of outcomes – educational attainment, occupational standing, earnings and marital choice. It compares effects of obesity in combination with those of two other key measures obtained from WLS participants in adolescence – academic ability and facial attractiveness. Biases in household interviewers’ ratings may have led to over-estimates of the advantages of facial attractiveness, but these are not a problem in our ratings of high school yearbook photos.

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Presented in Session 181: Causes and Consequences of Adolescent Behavior