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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter December 13, 2012

The Prostitute's Allure: The Return to Beauty in Commercial Sex Work

  • Raj Arunachalam EMAIL logo and Manisha Shah

Abstract

We estimate the earnings premium for beauty in an occupation where returns to physical attractiveness are likely to be important: commercial sex work. Using data from sex workers in Ecuador and Mexico, we find that a one standard deviation increase in attractiveness yields 10-15 percent higher earnings. Including controls for personal characteristics (communication ability and desirability of personality) cuts the beauty premium by up to one-half. Beautiful sex workers earn higher wages, have more clients, and enjoy a larger compensating differential for disease risk.

Keywords: beauty premium
Published Online: 2012-12-13

©2012 Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG, Berlin/Boston

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