Members of the European Parliament take part in a voting session during a plenary session at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France, on November 22 , 2023. LEHTIKUVA / AFP


A groundbreaking study by the ifo Institute has revealed that attractive politicians are often less engaged in parliamentary activities, choosing instead to pursue alternative opportunities that their looks afford them. According to ifo researcher Timo Wochner, the study highlights a clear trend: politicians deemed more attractive based on a beauty scale are notably more absent from parliament, earn significantly higher from external activities, and are more frequently featured on talk shows.

The research indicates that these politicians leverage their media presence and external engagements to boost their popularity and expand their networks, which can indirectly benefit their political parties. "Attractive people often enjoy advantages in life, and politics is no exception," Wochner observes, pointing out the economic motivations behind these choices, including self-interest and the pursuit of popularity.

Key findings from the study include that the most attractive members of the German Bundestag are 35 percent more likely to miss parliamentary sessions, earn an additional €40,000 from outside activities, and have a 50 percent higher likelihood of appearing on talk shows. This data suggests a trade-off between parliamentary presence and the exploitation of opportunities outside the legislative chambers.

The study covered the 17th and 18th legislative periods of the German Bundestag from 2009 to 2017, analyzing attendance records, participation in debates, and external activities alongside media appearances. The attractiveness ratings were determined through a survey conducted with 372 US citizens who assessed standardized portraits of the parliament members on a scale from 1 to 10.

While the study sheds light on the relationship between attractiveness and parliamentary engagement, Wochner cautions against drawing conclusions about the quality of the legislative work performed by these politicians. The findings open a window into how personal characteristics may influence political behavior and the allocation of time between parliamentary duties and other pursuits.