Study associates adolescent acne with higher grades, possible future earnings

July 20, 2017

Adolescents who have acne may have higher grade point averages and higher earning potential in the job market, according to findings from a recent study.

Adolescents who have acne may have higher grade point averages and higher earning potential in the job market, according to findings from a recent study.

Researchers from the departments of economics at Emory University, Atlanta, and Ball State University, Muncie, Ind., examined data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health).

Add Health included four waves of inquiries beginning in 1994 and concluding in 2008, with respondents surveyed from grades 7-12 and continuing through age 32. The first wave included 90,000; each subsequent wave included responses from about 15,000 of the original participants. Add Health asked participants questions related to skin problems and acne medication use, measures of self-esteem and socialization, and measures of academic performance.

They noted that adolescents who had acne in middle and high school had decreased socialization, but higher educational performance and attainment. Having acne was positively associated with overall grade point average in high school and the completion of a college degree. The associations were stronger for women and whites than for men and blacks.

“Knowledge of these associations may provide consolation and hope to teenagers suffering from acne,” the study authors wrote. “Whether these relationships are causal remains uncertain, although we do find some evidence that having acne in adolescence is fairly random and not related to socioeconomic status. Further investigation into the validity of an assumption of exogeneity of acne, as well as other measures of physical appearance, is called for.”

The paper was published online May 5 in SSRN.

Mialon, HM, Nesson E. “Do Pimples Pay? Acne, Human Capital, and the Labor Market.” 2017; May 5.

* Source: Mialon, Hugo M. and Nesson, Erik, “Do Pimples Pay? Acne, Human Capital, and the Labor Market.” SSRN, May 5,2017