Ugly Criminals

Mahalanobis points us to Ugly Criminals:

Using data from three waves of
Add Health we find that being very attractive reduces a young adult’s (ages
18-26) propensity for criminal activity and being unattractive increases it for
a number of crimes, ranging from burglary to selling drugs. A variety of tests
demonstrate that this result is not because beauty is acting as a proxy for
socio-economic status. Being very attractive is also positively associated with adult
vocabulary test scores, which suggests the possibility that beauty may have an
impact on human capital formation. We demonstrate that, especially for females,
holding constant current beauty, high school beauty (pre-labor market beauty)
has a separate impact on crime, and that high school beauty is correlated with
variables that gauge various aspects of high school experience, such as GPA,
suspension or having being expelled from school, and problems with teachers.
These results suggest two handicaps faced by unattractive individuals. First, a
labor market penalty provides a direct incentive for unattractive individuals
toward criminal activity. Second, the level of beauty in high school has an
effect on criminal propensity 7-8 years later, which seems to be due to the
impact of the level of beauty in high school on human capital formation,
although this second avenue seems to be effective for females only.


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