How old can you be — as a lady movie star — before you must stop aging, douse yourself in waters from the fountain of youth, and seek to become a sparkling, ageless vampire-daemon? Is that age unknowable, or simply measured by the presence of more than three wrinkles? Nah, say researchers — the age is known, and it’s 34, the point at which income for female movie stars begins to “decrease rapidly.”
In a paper published Wednesday, titled Age, Gender, and Compensation: A Study of Hollywood Movie Stars, researchers sought to determine if there was a discrepancy between the salaries for male and female actors as they age. The study’s authors focused on the highest level of earners (movie stars!) in order “to rule out productivity-related explanations.”
While the salaries for women in their twenties surpass the salaries for men in their twenties, women’s wages peak at 34 and fall dramatically after that point. The peak for women is over $3,000,000, and over the next twenty years, their earnings drop to below $300,000. From their twenties onwards, wages for men increase, peaking at age 51 and then holding steady into their sixties (at around $3,000,000).
This might seem like unfathomable amounts of money in a notoriously mercurial business, but one of the lead authors of the study says that these studies reflect greater trends. Timothy Judge, a management professor at the University of Notre Dame, said to USA Today:
This is a microcosm of what happens in society. We are such an appearance-based society. Men’s well-worn faces are thought to convey maturity, character and experience. A woman’s face, on the other hand, is valued for appearing young.
Everyone can have a well-worn face! Maturity and character for all! Movie stars are like fine bourbons! Let each and every one of them age!