Soohyung Lee

  • Current position:
    Assistant Professor, Economics, University of Maryland (College Park); Faculty Affiliate, Maryland Population Research Center, USA
  • Positions/functions as policy advisor:
    Consultant, Asian Development Bank, Philippines (2015); Deputy Director, International Finance Bureau, Ministry of Finance, South Korea (1999–2002); Intern, International Monetary Fund, Washington DC, USA (2005 summer)
  • Research interest:
    Labor/public, development, family economics, market design, and applied econometrics
  • Website:
  • Affiliations:
    University of Maryland and MPRC, USA, and IZA, Germany
  • Past positions:
    Research Fellow, Harvard Business School, Cambridge, USA (2011–2012); Visiting Professor, Hitotsubanish University, Tokyo, Japan (2013); Visiting Professor, Seoul National University, Seoul, South Korea (2012)
  • Qualifications:
    PhD Economics, Stanford University, 2008
  • Personal statement about IZA World of Labor:
    When I was a government official in South Korea, I often had difficulty identifying and following up on the latest developments in academic economics research from which I could draw insights when designing policies. I suspect that other policymakers and media may share this same experience. For this reason, I am particularly honored to be a part of the IZA’s efforts to reach out to the general public, the media, and policymakers to share insights from academic circles that are often not easily accessible to non-academics
  • Selected publications:
    • “Effect of online dating on marital sorting.” Journal of Applied Econometrics (Forthcoming).
    • “Multiple testing and heterogeneous treatment effects: Re-evaluating the effect of progress on school enrollment.” Journal of Applied Econometrics 29:4 (2014): 612–626 (with A. Shaikh).
    • “Propose with a rose? Signaling in internet dating markets.” Experimental Economics (Forthcoming) (with M. Niederle).
    • “Do single-sex schools make girls more competitive?” Economics Letters 124:3 (2014): 474–477 (with M. Niederle and N. Kang).
    • “Education’s role in China’s structural transformation.” Journal of Development Economics March (2013): 148–166 (with B. Malin).
  • Articles

Beauty pays but does investment in beauty?

Despite the large returns from an attractive appearance, the cost-effectiveness of investment in beauty is ambiguous

October 2015

10.15185/izawol.198 198

by Soohyung Lee Lee, S

Being beautiful gives a person an advantage in many settings. Attractive people earn more and have an easier time getting hired. People spend large amounts of money on goods and services to enhance their beauty. Is this enhancement worth pursuing? Research suggests that the expected improvement in beauty from these goods and services is limited. Therefore, despite the large returns from having an attractive appearance, the cost-effectiveness of investment in beauty enhancement is ambiguous. For the average person, the monetary benefits of plastic surgery, medical treatments to increase height, and expensive clothing are not worth the cost.