Weekly Digest: What Women and Men Want in the Dating Market
Welcome to my weekly digest for October 7, 2022.
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What Women and Men Want in the Dating Market
Corinne Low, an economics professor at the Wharton School, put out a tweet thread highlighting findings from two of her studies that will be published soon in academic journals. She links to online versions of the full studies. She recruited real life daters to rate profiles in which fake income and age were randomly assigned. This allowed her to independently measure the impact of age and income on desirability.
She reached a number of conclusions.
Women prefer men two years older than themselves.
Men prefer younger women, period. They penalize a woman for being older independently of attractiveness.
It takes $7000/yr in extra income for a woman to offset the penalty associated with being one year older. (This is consistent with other research I’ve seen showing that men value income much less than women, hence it takes a lot of female income to offset weaknesses in other areas).
Male preference for younger women is heavily driven by a desire for children. It’s stronger for men who are childless and want to get married and have kids, as well as in men who are knowledgeable about women’s fertility decline with age. Men who already have kids don’t display this age preference. This means women’s fertility window has a major impact on their dating and marriage prospects.
Low posted this chart showing that after about age 27, the income of the men that women marry goes down. She views this as one impact of women being rates as less desirable as they age.
Not that this chart also shows again that women prefer to marry up in terms of income.
She even uses her findings to explain seemingly odd occurrences, such as that women with graduate degrees marry poorer men than women with merely a bachelors. In her view, the increased income or status associated with a graduate degree does not offset the attractiveness penalty from spending extra years getting that degree.
This data is very consistent with what I called the “attractiveness curve” back in newsletter #18.
With the move to online dating and more research being focused on this area, we now have a lot of hard evidence about what men and women want, and how they behave in the dating and marriage marketplaces. Note that this research is from a female economist at a top university, not some random online influencer.
Regardless of how we would like things to be, we have to anchor ourselves and make decisions for our lives in light of how things actually are. And pastors and other authority figures have to speak out of this reality, not repeat old bromides from the 70s and 80s that we now know just aren’t true.
Best of the Web
David Brooks: The Crisis of Men and Boys
Variety: Jordan Peterson Breaks Down in Tears When Asked About Olivia Wilde Calling Him a ‘Hero to the Incel Community’: ‘Sure, Why Not?’
“Sure. Why not?” Peterson said when Piers Morgan asked if Wilde’s assessment of him was true. “You know, people have been after me for a long time because I’ve been speaking to disaffected young men.” Peterson then broke down into tears and said, “It’s very difficult to understand how demoralized people are, and certainly many young men are in that category. You get these casual insults, these incels — what do they mean? These men, they don’t know how to make themselves attractive to women who are very picky, and good for them. Women, like, be picky. That’s your gift, man. Demand high standards from your men. Fair enough. But all these men who are alienated, it’s like they’re lonesome and they don’t know what to do and everyone piles abuse on them.”
Peterson cares about the young men who turn to him, and has repeatedly displayed this obvious compassion for them. This is something you almost never see in the church amidst the endless “Man up!” sermons and programs.
Also, note how hostile secular society is to Peterson’s concern for these young men.
NBER Working Papers: Gender Gaps at the Academies - An academic study looks at the large bias in favor of women at the National Academy of Science and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Their finding: “Currently, women are 3-15 times more likely to be selected as members of the AAAS and NAS than men with similar publication and citation records.”
WSJ: First-Time Marriages Are on the Rise for People in Their 40s and 50s
Jake Meador: Alternatives to Culture War
Here’s a super-interesting study on the demographics of elite higher educational institutions from political scientist Eric Kaufmann.
Rob Henderson: Revolutions Occur When a Significant Portion of Elites Defect From the Existing Regime - it’s pretty common knowledge, but Henderson helps show again that there’s no such thing as a successful uprising that’s purely populist.
Since I’ve repeatedly made reference to problems with our electrical grid, I wanted to highlight this piece in the Wall Street Journal about how investments in Florida’s grid paid off, as it mostly withstood Hurricane Ian. Utilities there have spent billions of dollars on grid resiliency, including on things like burying transmission lines. Good to see a place where needed investments and improvements were happening.
New Content and Media Mentions
I was a recent guest on the Ourosvox podcast discussing Christian localism.
New this week:
How Social Class Shines a Light on Conservatism's Past (paid only) - My talk at the National Conservatism conference, and a further look at how social class helps explains the furors over William F. Buckley’s book God and Man at Yale, the Sen. McCarthy hearings, and the Alger Hiss case.
“You Didn’t Build That” - My podcast this week is on the need to maintain a humble posture about our successes because of the tremendous outside factors that went into them. Paid subscribers can read the transcript.
At American Reformer this week, James Wood writes on sheep, wolves, and fools.
Related to this week’s podcast, someone sent me this blog post of a man telling the story of his life multiple ways, one through the lens of his own hard work, the other through the lens of all the good fortune that he received along the way.
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In my small group we are reading Michael Frost's "Surprise the World: The Five Habits of Highly Missional People." The first habit is blessing others, particularly through acts of service, gifts, and words of affirmation (and doing this for 3 people each week, at least one inside the church and at least one nonbeliever). Although words of affirmation seems to be the "cheapest" in terms of effort and expense, it plays a huge role for some people.
I think about this in relation to JP's compassion for young men whom it's totally socially acceptable to degrade. I was struck by Peterson's comment that "It’s really something to see — constantly how many people are dying for lack of an encouraging word and how easy it is to provide that if you’re careful.” And then there's the video of this vet. It's heartbreaking to see a man so broken and so desperate for some human connection.