One of the countless criticisms of Ayn Rand’s novels is that she makes all her heroes good-looking and all her villains ugly. That’s not quite true – Floyd Ferris is known as “that good-looking scientist” – but it’s close. It turns out that she was on to something: a new NBER piece finds that ugliness predicts criminality:

First, a labor market penalty provides a direct incentive for unattractive individuals toward criminal activity. Second, the level of beauty in high school has an effect on criminal propensity 7-8 years later, which seems to be due to the impact of the level of beauty in high school on human capital formation, although this second avenue seems to be effective for females only.

Thanks to Alex Tabarrok for the pointer.