Those awkward teenage years may be costing people more than a prom date.
A new research paper finds that attractive young adults have a pay advantage over their less attractive peers—and that advantage starts building as early as high school.
"There may be this kind of snowballing effect across time," said Rachel Gordon, a sociology professor at the University of Illinois in Chicago and one of the study's co-authors.
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The researchers found that, starting as early as high school, attractive people are rated as more intelligent and promising. They also get higher grades and are more likely to graduate from college.
According to Gordon, those early successes and confidence boosters may create a self-fulfilling cycle, in which the appealing teenagers are more successful as adults.
That boost can have long-term consequences on earnings. Past research has shown that both women and men enjoy a wage bonus if they have above-average looks and can be penalized for having below-average looks. That's along with other economic advantages that accrue to prettier people.
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