Physical attractiveness and intergenerational social mobility


Gugushvili, Alexi & Bulczak, Grzegorz (2023). Physical attractiveness and intergenerational social mobility. Social Science Quarterly.


Objective: Physical attractiveness is often studied in relation to various life outcomes, but there is a lack of research on its links to intergenerational educational, occupational, and income mobility. Individuals may use physical attractiveness as one of the channels for experiencing upward or avoiding downward social mobility.
Methods: Using data about 11,583 individuals from the United States National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, we contribute to the existing scholarship by investigating if physical attractiveness, assessed when individuals are around 15 years old, is an important predictor of intergenerational social mobility measured after 20 years.
Results: We find that physical attractiveness matters both for males' and females' intergenerational social mobility outcomes, but it is more important for males, even when childhood characteristics, such as various aspects of parental socioeconomic position, individuals' health, a proxy for IQ, neighborhood conditions, and interviewers' fixed effects, are accounted for using imputed data for observations with missing information. Across three measures of social mobility-education, occupation, and income-physically attractive males are more likely to be socially mobile than males of average attractiveness.
Conclusion: Physical attractiveness is an independent predictor of intergenerational social mobility outcomes regarding individuals' educational, occupational, and income attainment.



Physical attractiveness

Reference Type

Journal Article

Journal Title

Social Science Quarterly


Gugushvili, Alexi
Bulczak, Grzegorz

Year Published



November 8, 2023



Reference ID