MIT Study Confirms: No Money, No Honey

Or at least that's what men seem to think. An economic survey shows how rates of personal debt increase in areas where men outnumber women, making the competition for a mate more fierce.

What's the Latest Development?


American men are willing to go into debt quickly to try to secure a mate, says a new MIT study. Looking at the correlation between per-capita debt rates and the ratio of men to women across 134 cities, the study found that men are more likely to spend profligately in areas where, numerically speaking, competition for a mate was more intense. The influence of gender ratios over spending habits was confirmed by a test that measured how much men were willing to spend on romantic gifts depending on the number of other men present.

What's the Big Idea?

For many men, it seems the credit-fueled boom before the recession may have been motivated by the basic desire to find a mate. Authors of the study say they would expect competition, mediated by money, to be consistent across cultures but that the near-sightedness of the American man may be unique. In Chinese society, for example, which has traditionally high rates of personal savings, men might demonstrate their attractiveness as a mate by spending big on longer-term, more worthwhile items.

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