Study authors Daniel Hamermesh and Jason Abrevaya say beautiful people are generally happier than their homelier counterparts, mostly because of higher salaries, other economic benefits of being beautiful and more successful spouses, who also are beautiful.
"Personal beauty raises happiness," Hamermesh says in a statement. "The majority of beauty's effect on happiness works through its impact on economic outcomes."
Hamermesh and Abrevaya analyzed data from five surveys conducted by social scientists in the United States, Canada, Germany and Britain that asked more than 25,000 people about their levels of happiness and required an interviewer to rate participants' attractiveness or evaluate their beauty from pictures.
The study found the top 15 percent of people ranked by looks are more than 10 percent happier than people ranked in the bottom 10 percent of looks, the researchers say.
The study can be found at ftp.iza.org/dp5600.pdf and is scheduled to be published this summer in "Beauty Pays: Why Attractive People are More Successful."