Studies consistently show that attractive people get higher pay and more job opportunities than the folks who are less attractive. In economic terms, that means an hour in the gym is equivalent to some number of minutes of education. And yet we tend to perceive people who take classes as dedicated contributors to the world’s economic engine whereas people who exercise every day seem a tad selfish. Maybe we need to quantify the economic benefits of an hour of education versus an hour of exercise so we know how to get the best bang for the buck.
Healthy people generally have more energy, fewer health problems, less stress, better attitudes, and more influence over people. How much is all of that goodness worth? Would you be better off economically if you exercised daily or if you had a pot belly and a second degree?
Let’s say you live in a parallel universe and you’re in charge of hiring for your business. Two men apply for the job. As is the custom in this imaginary universe, the applicants submit their job histories and educational backgrounds along with pictures of their torsos. That’s all you know about the candidates. They don’t even interview in person.
How much more would you be willing to pay the applicant on the right? Let’s say the average salary is $100K per year and both applicants are equally good at negotiating for salary. How much more per year would you be willing to pay the fitter applicant, all other things being equal?
[Update: Several of you observed that the original image of the fit person (the one in the middle now) is too scrawny. I added a third image that is more of a gym body (who wears pants correctly) than an under-eater. Now which of the three do you hire, all else being equal?]
The second question is just for the ladies and the men who prefer men. This time the question is how much extra income would the man on the left need to earn to before you found him as attractive (for marriage) as the man on the right. Assume everything else about the two men is equal: same senses of humor, personalities, etc. The only differences are income and fitness. Give me an annual income estimate that makes the two men equivalent from a mating perspective. Assume the man on the right (the fitter one) earns $80K per year. How much would the less-fit man on the left need to earn to be equal marriage material?
My new book, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life, will be released October 22nd but you can preorder on Amazon.