According to a new paper from the Centre for Economic Policy Research, the answer is (a robust) ‘yes’.
We document appearance effects in the economics profession. Using unique data on PhD graduates from ten of the top economics departments in the United States we test whether more attractive individuals are more likely to succeed. We find robust evidence that appearance has predictive power for job outcomes and research productivity. Attractive individuals are more likely to study at higher ranked PhD institutions and are more likely to be placed at higher-ranking academic institutions not only for their first job, but also for jobs as many as 15 years after their graduation, even when we control for the ranking of PhD institution and first job. Appearance also predicts the success of research output: while it does not predict the number of papers an individual writes, it predicts the number of citations for a given number of papers, again even when we control for the ranking of the PhD institution and first job. All these effects are robust, statistically significant, and substantial in magnitude.
You can download the paper here from the UK based Centre for Economic Policy Research for GBP £6.00.
Or, if you prefer, you download it here, for free (from the same organisation).
Note: The photo (not featured in the study) depicts The Right Honourable John Maynard Keynes, 1st Baron Keynes CB, FBA, (1883–1946) who was, some say, one of the most influential economists of the 20th century.