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Home | Events Archive | The Economic Impact of Heritable Physical Traits: Hot Parents, Rich Kid?
Seminar

The Economic Impact of Heritable Physical Traits: Hot Parents, Rich Kid?


  • Series
  • Speaker(s)
    Daniel S. Hamermesh (University of Texas at Austin, United States)
  • Field
    Empirical Microeconomics
  • Location
    Tinbergen Institute Amsterdam, room 1.60
    Amsterdam
  • Date and time

    July 02, 2024
    15:30 - 16:30

Abstract
Intergenerational transmission of inequality is one, if not the most central question, in the social sciences. We use one trait, beauty, to infer how much parents’ physical characteristics transmit inequality across generations. Analyses of a large dataset in the U.S. and a much smaller dataset of Chinese parents and children demonstrate the correlation of looks across generations. A large dataset of U.S. siblings shows a positive correlation of their beauty, as do two small samples of siblings. Using polygenic scores, we infer the partial genetic basis for these correlations. The appropriate weighted average from the 5 samples shows that a one SD increase in ratings of both parents’ looks is associated with a 0.31 SD increase in their child’s. Coupling these estimates with those from large literatures measuring the impact of beauty on earnings and the intergenerational elasticity of income suggests that a one SD difference in parents’ looks generates a 0.08 SD difference in their adult child’s earnings, about U.S. $2,350 annually. Joint paper with Anwen Zhang.