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  3. What’s Behind Her Smile? Health, Looks, and Self-Esteem


Academic Papers Artículo en revista académica

What’s Behind Her Smile? Health, Looks, and Self-Esteem

  • person Francisco Gallego

    Cristian Larroulet Philippi, Andrea Repetto

  • class American Economic Journal-Applied Economics, forthcoming

Abstract: This paper examines how improving dental health affects economic, social, and psychological outcomes. In a randomized experiment, we provide a low-income group in Chile free dental care, including prostheses, and find significant and persistent impacts on men’s and women’s dental and self-perceived mental health. For women, treatment generates steady improvement in self-esteem, a higher likelihood of smiling when photographed, short-run improvements in employment and earnings, and improvement in partner interactions. We find no impact for men in any of these dimensions. Heterogeneity analyses suggest that treatment effects on labor market outcomes are larger for women with more severe visible dental issues at baseline. In summary, we find that increasing access to dental care, including cosmetic elements, improves important aspects of people’s lives.