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Dan Hamermesh (Sue Killam Professor Emeritus)

September 27, 2023 @ 1:30 pm - 2:45 pm

Dan Hamermesh is a Fellow of the Econometric Society and the Society of Labor Economists, a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research and the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), and Past President of the Society of Labor Economists and of the Midwest Economics Association. In 2013 he received the biennial Mincer Award for Lifetime Contributions to Labor Economics of the Society of Labor Economists; the annual IZA Prize in Labor of the Institute for the Study of Labor; and the biennial John R. Commons Award of the international economics honor society OΔE. His magnum opus, Labor Demand, was published by Princeton University Press in 1993. The same press published his Beauty Pays in 2011. In 2019 Oxford University Press published his Spending Time. In 2014 Worth Publishers published the fifth edition of his Economics Is Everywhere, a series of 400 vignettes designed to illustrate the ubiquity of economics in everyday life and how the simple tools in a microeconomics principles class can be used. His undergraduate teaching, particularly of large classes in introductory economics, has gained him several University-wide teaching awards.

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

Abstract: Since the mapping of the human genome in 2004, biologists have demonstrated genetic links to the expression of several income-enhancing physical traits. To illustrate how heredity produces intergenerational economic effects, this study uses one trait, beauty, to infer the extent to which parents’ physical characteristics transmit inequality across generations. Analyses of a large-scale longitudinal study in the U.S. and a much smaller Chinese study show that a one standard-deviation increase in parents’ looks is associated with a 0.3 standard-deviation increase in their child’s looks. Coupling this estimate with parameters from the literatures describing the impact of beauty on earnings and the intergenerational elasticity of income suggests that two standard-deviation differences in parents’ looks generate a 0.10 standard-deviation difference in their adult child’s earnings.

Dan Hamermesh’s paper can be found here.


September 27, 2023
1:30 pm - 2:45 pm
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Hemmerdinger Screening Room, Hunter College Library Room East 706
115 E 68th Street
New York, NY 10065 United States
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