Have a tattoo? If the answer is “yes,” it’s more likely you’re unemployed or completely out of the labor force. On average, your income is lower. You’re more probably a smoker, use illegal drugs, engage in risky sexual behavior, have been a victim of crime, and have been incarcerated for committing crime yourself.
People – both males and females – with tats are less educated, have lower grade point averages, have limited vocabularies, suffer depression more frequently, are not as well groomed and – in the case of females – not as good looking.
All of this is detailed in two studies (the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health and the Australian Study of Health and Relationships) which collected information on tattoos. Unfortunately, the studies only included a yes or no question regarding having one or more tattoos, and didn’t differentiate between having one discrete tattoo from being covered from head to foot with tattoos glorifying demons, racism, sexism, violence, hatred and so forth.
But, the important question is, do people become losers because they get inked, or do they get inked because they’re losers. Which came first? The tattoo or being a loser?
According to a small consortium of scholars spanning several disciplines and associated with several universities (Michael T. French, et al, Southern Economic Journal, April 2016), the tattoos are essentially an effect and not a cause. Examining both labor force participation and earnings, they find that the contribution of being tattooed becomes statistically insignificant when background variables are included in multi-variate analysis.
Which brings up the next question: what about piercings?