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The Beauty Premium: How Urban Beauty Affects Cities’ Economic Growth

A study finds that the more beautiful a city is, the more successful it is at attracting jobs and new residents, including highly educated and affluent ones.
More than just a tourist attraction, Manhattan's High Line is a development destination.
More than just a tourist attraction, Manhattan's High Line is a development destination. Lucas Jackson/Reuters

In a phenomenon economists call the beauty premium, better-looking people tend to earn more money and are more successful at their careers. But do cities also benefit from a beauty premium? According to a new study by two urban economists, it seems that they do.

The study by Gerald A. Carlino of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia and Albert Saiz of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, examines the connection between a city’s beauty and key growth indicators. A raft of previous studies have found a connection between economic and population growth and urban amenities (a broad category ranging from parks to restaurants, art galleries, and museums). But this study takes a much closer look at the effects of beauty itself.