France looked back this week at the 1911 theft of the Mona Lisa from the walls of the Louvre. It was one of the most startling art heists in history, but the emotions it still arouses go beyond that. Stealing Leonardo da Vinci’s painting was like stealing beauty itself. And beauty has lost none of its power to bewitch, bother and get its own way, as three new books on the economic advantages of good looks confirm.
Physically attractive women and men earn more than average-looking ones, and very plain people earn less. In the labour market as a whole (though not, for example, in astrophysics), looks have a bigger impact on earnings than education, though intelligence—mercifully enough— is valued more highly still.