Want to Get Ahead? Be Tall, Blond and Beautiful

Do blonde women have more fun? Do taller men really get the better jobs? According to one of the authors of "Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything," the answer is yes.

Men who are tall seem to make more money, and blonde women seem to get more attention, Stephen Dubner said. Fair or not, the data do not lie.

"A great study showed that for men, in America at least, we plainly like them tall," he said. "Look at our presidents and our CEOs, they're much taller than average."

Dubner said that the 2004 University of Pennsylvania study broke down the figures inch by inch. For every inch above the average a man was as a teenager -- not necessarily as a grown man -- he was paid 3 percent more.

Dubner also said that a blond on an online dating site had about the same appeal as a person with a college degree, even if the blond dropped out of high school.

In 1994, "20/20" conducted its own experiment. Producers set up two charity booths, one manned by a blonde woman. The other was manned by a brunette. The blonde collected 50 percent more money than the other woman.

According to a study that same year called "Beauty and the Labor Market," less attractive people were also penalized in earnings. Men of below average or average looks made 9 percent less than the median wage. Men considered handsome made 5 percent more than the median wage. Less attractive women made 8 percent less than the median, and more attractive women made more than 4 percent above the median. The study said that those in the top third of attractiveness were paid 5 percent more than the median.

Additionally, researchers found that beautiful people committed fewer crimes. Being an unattractive female increases the propensity for robbery by 1.5 percent, for assault by 2.2 percent, and selling drugs by 3 percent. Being a very attractive female reduces the propensity to commit nondrug crimes by 2.5 percent, to commit assault by 2 percent, and to damage property by 1.1 percent.

Dubner's research found that if the NFL had used cheerleaders rather than football players to raise money for Katrina relief in a telethon, more money would have been donated.

But there is hope for those who may not be tall or blond. Dubner said it was all in the attitude -- take a page from the notoriously short, yet powerful, Napoleon.

"It's all about confidence, self-esteem, and the opportunities that come with having those things. The truth is, even if you're not blond or a cheerleader or athlete … you should act like it."

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