deletedMay 26
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Isn't this the same content from a few posts ago?

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This was fun! I think while the West this is all mostly informal, the more formalised marriage pools in China for instance has rules that are far more rigid

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> I know many rich male Google programmers, but I have never seen any of them marry a stunning black girl from the ghetto

Mail order brides are (or used to) be a thing. When I think of the kind of men that resort to this, my first intuition is a high-income but a romantically unsuccessful man.

Alternatively, sugar daddy/trophy wife dynamic is fairly popular.

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To what extent is the modern data confounded (or biased) by the relatively low modern marriage rate? Did I miss that discussion?

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"After all, on average, the average man has 50th percentile educational rank among men; the average woman has 50th percentile educational rank among women, therefore the average husband and wife would share the same educational rank."

Isn't this misstating the problem? More than 50% of the college population now is women. If every college educated woman wants a college educated man there's simply not enough to go around.

From what I understand the imbalance is so bad on certain campuses that the dating situation has been completely distorted compared to previous generations, i.e. female college students chasing eligible males who are presented with an array of potential partners.

"...seems to have produced a change in the preferences of individuals, in the social norms that are internalized or imposed upon them by their social environment."

Or it may be that college educated women are settling in the belief that marrying down is better than not marrying at all. In that scenario is it unreasonable to hypothesize that such unions may be less stable than ones where one partner didn't lower their expectations?

"Women’s rising share of education isn’t directly damaging the marriage market. Women’s rising share of income might be, with one study suggesting it’s responsible for 23% of the decline in US marriages."

This would seem to be contradictory. Income correlates with education--how many times have we heard how much more college grads make over a lifetime?

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May 24·edited May 24

Anecdote isn't data but my personal experience matches this very well. I (34m) am less educated (3 years of university) but higher earning (finance) than my wife (32f, 6 years of university, veterinary surgeon). In the last comparable year where we were both working full time before she went on maternity I earned 50% more than her, since her return to work 3 days a week and a promotion for me I earn 3 times more.

Furthermore of the 3 girls that my wife shared a house with for her last 2 years of vet school 2 are married, both to less well educated but higher earning husbands.

The Veterinary sector is probably a slightly extreme example as it is quite poorly paid (at least in the UK) relative to the required education.

On the class points my background matches my wife's pretty closely and that's part of the reason why our relationship works. My previous long term girlfriend, who I met at university, came from a pretty different background and while that was fine when dating as we got more serious that difference became a bigger issue and led to the relationship ending. With my wife our expectations and views are well aligned.

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I think this discussion might be missing a crucial point. For almost all of the period in Western culture during which monogamy has been the only recognized form of marriage, near-universal opposite-sex marriage has *also* been the norm. If your metric is any rank-ordered variable, that imposes a fairly low mathematical limit on how much net female hypergamy there can be.

The phenomenon we're talking about was enormously more important in the times and places (much of human history, I think) in which monogamy wasn't the norm. There's no way to understand a finding like this, for example, except as describing a society in which the norm was extreme polygamy with extreme hypergamy: roughly, one where around 85 percent of women and around 5 percent of men produced at least one child who survived to reproductive age.


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Isn't marriage in general declining? Marriage data has the advantage of being readily available but does it still represent enough of a share of the population in committed relationships or are there perhaps other things that factor into which people marry (e.g. religion)?

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Is there data on this with "education" broken down into fields? Seems potentially relevant, considering the wild gender imbalances in a lot of fields.

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"... each quadrant in the (rich, poor) x (pretty, ugly) matrix pairs off with itself"

I wonder if this makes the gap between the prettiest and ugliest people bigger over time? Because the prettiest people create even prettier children, and vice versa.

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So interesting to see social norms change as the structure of society changes. I would expect that we will see that difference in attitudes to income change in years to come, as educated women start to climb career ladders etc and society becomes less patriarchal.

I do find it amusing that "class" is such a strong explainer of peoples' marital choices, when it is itself so hard to agree on a definition for. One thing to consider, which I think Scott covers well, is that there is a lot of space to move around within your "class". For example, if you're a high-earning knowledge worker, you are highly likely to live somewhere full of professionals, have friends who are mostly professionals, use dating apps that professionals use etc etc. You don't need to consider moving outside of that when there are so many people around you with similar lifestyles and values.

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This is Men's Rights 101 level stuff. Did you just hear about it?

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I think male hypogamy was more of a thing in the past when executives often married their secretaries. I recall a story from Ben Rich's fascinating book "Skunk Works" about the three marriages of Kelly Johnson, the legendary first head of Lockheed's Skunk Works advanced aircraft design wing. His first wife was dying, so she arranged with his secretary that she would marry Kelly next, and then they explained what they had arranged to the great man. Then his second wife was dying so she found a friend of her who agreed to marry Kelly.

It was common at mid-Century Lockheed for engineers with some college education to marry secretaries with only high school degrees. That's how my parents met. And my mother's best friend in the secretarial pool married Henry Combs, whom Rich credits as the chief designer of the awesome SR-71.

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May 24·edited May 24

Because one or two of the surveys mentioned a two hundred year period, it might be relevant to point out that divorce became legal in the UK only in 1857, and I believe was difficult and expensive in the US and other western countries until at least that date, and probably well into the 20th century.

Also in the UK, until the 1920s a husband could obtain a divorce on the sole grounds of infidelity, but a wife's petition on the grounds of infidelity required cruelty as well. Although not sure, I would guess this kind of rights asymmetry was also reflected in other countries until around the same time.

So that meant guys could and frequently did "play away" with a mistress, secure in the knowledge that their wife would not be able to take them to the cleaners financially by asking for and obtaining a divorce. That in turn, I would imagine, meant less incentive in the first place for a man to marry a woman solely for her looks.

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Just realized this could explain a lot of my relationship woes. If matching is determined to a very high degree by class, I managed to fuck up spectacularly by putting myself in a class with no available partners around me. The "work from wherever you want" thing apparently has downsides as well. This shall require some introspection.

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This is interesting, and I wonder if it's confounded by where people *meet* rather than what people *prefer*.

Highly educated people with well paying jobs tend to meet spouses at university (studying similar degrees), at work (in similar income brackets), or work-adjacent networking type things (again, similar income/class brackets).

I feel this likely explains why the effect is so strong in heterosexual pairings but weak in homosexual pairings - straights meet and date just by existing in society, whereas gay, lesbian and transgender* people often need to go to queer spaces to find partners. Many queer spaces, potentially the demographic as a whole skew poor (as being out often has a negative effect on employment outcomes), so I expect that queer high earners are disproportionately more likely to date a poorer person compared to their straight high earning counterparts.

*Transgender footnote: trans partnerships can be complicated by one or more partner only realising that they're trans after being in a relationship - and apparently a decent proportion of those relationships manage to stay together. In that case initial conditions applying to straight partnerships apply. T4T (where both partners enter the relationship knowing that self is trans and partner is trans) seems to have queer dating dynamics (transcends class boundaries due to being a minority), even if theyre hetero. But gay people seem to rarely meet in the kind of "our friends introduced us to one another and we clicked" way that kicks off many straight partnerships unless they're in overwhelming queer friend groups.... In which case the same thing of most people being kind of poor applies again.

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I vaguely recall reading decades ago that somebody had counted all the marriages in Britain of peers of the realm to chorus girls, actresses, models and the like over a period of a couple of centuries or so. I think they had counted a little over 100 such marriages, although my recollection could be totally off. There are currently 806 hereditary peers. So assuming the study covered, say, six generations, 100 would represent about two percent of lords marrying beautiful and/or charming women from way down the social ladder.

That might be a high estimate. But nobles marrying actresses was definitely a Thing. Here are two newspaper articles from 1913 and 1916 arguing that most such lord-chorus girl marriages turned out to be happy ones:


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In my PhD program (2004-2009) the ratio of men to women was 1:4

Most of the hottest women were in relationships with men who they met in undergrad and those guys went straight into the workforce and were rich.

The PhD was a hobby for these girls. They didn't need the money or a husband.

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Interesting throughout - though mildly "disappointing": no sand-worms this time. b) "maybe ...there’s no tendency for ugly rich people to marry attractive poor people". Maybe not in numbers high enough enough to show up in those studies. Bernie Ecclestone - again father at 89 - is not alone in this world (if you never heard, seems you do not read tabloids https://www.thesun.co.uk/sport/12044460/bernie-ecclestone-wife-family-daughter-f1/ ) .

Having worked/lived in strange places (and being a weirdo), the only 3 constants I see in my partners: female, around 30 yrs. no money; but very different edu/class/looks. - Had I stayed home, I'd hooked up with a colleague or so. with all social markers identical to mine.

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I think actually the case of same-sex-marriages warrantes being investigated further, since it might explain a bit the reasons for hypergamy (or lack thereof).

Spontaneously, I can think of three good reasons for same-sex couples to care less about it:

1. Scott already brought up the more diverse community/online dating aspect.

2. I would guess that family pressure still plays a much smaller role in same-sex relationships. If your parents are not on board with your relationship anyways, or don't much care if and when you get married, they are less likely to pressure you into an "appropriate" marriage.

3. Since most same-sex relationships (I think?) still remain childless, the idea or finding an appropriate match to found a family of a certain wealth or education and provide accordingly for children plays no or very little role.

Maybe looking at studies of subsets could help clear this up?

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This is interesting.

But I think the research will always come up short as long as it tries to work with narrowly defined and objective definitions of status. Status is in some sense a typical zero-sum game, but in other ways not, because the factors that go into judging any individual’s status will be highly subjective, subconscious, contextual, and constantly changing.

Someone who grew up surrounded by people with college degrees, will probably discount the status of education relative to qualities that were less common in their environment. A million dollars provides more status in East New York than on the Upper East Side. Status at the gym or on Instagram are different from status at the office or the club. And Bill Gates’ status was higher when his name was associated less with Epstein’s.

In the end, status is our subjective guess at others’ relative reproductive fitness, which will always be in flux, and impossibly hard to pin down in studies like these.

On a sort of related tangent...

I’ve discussed status a few times with my 14-yo daughter lately. It’s not great, but as this whole discussion proves, status is much more important for success and happiness than people will typically admit. Telling young people (as people often do) not to worry about what other people think or say about them seems like bad advice. It’s probably better to help them to see through it, and to recognize the games we play.

While I don’t expect my daughter to marry or start a career or build impressive wealth any time soon, the jockeying for status is definitely on, and is going to play a big (constantly changing) role in her life. And so, how do you play the status game at 14 in a way that sets you up for a happy and successful life when you’re 15, 25 and 50? Smart choices, like doing well in school *might* break into the top five status factors for a teenager, but only if it doesn’t look like you’re trying too hard and it doesn’t mean having to sacrifice being perceived as fun.

So what’s the optimal strategy in the lifetime game of status ...?

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What is the definition of class used here. I thought it was simply income. Is it parental income or some other proxy?

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Hmm, I'm not sure I understand this bit:

> That is: if men cared about looks more than women, then they would trade off status for looks: faced with a choice between an average-looking woman of the same class, or a beautiful woman of a slightly-lower class, they would choose the beautiful-but-poor woman. But this would mean men would marry lower-class women more often than women married lower-class men, which would imply a less-than-perfect status correlation between husbands and wives. But the data show a pretty perfect status correlation between husbands and wives. Therefore, men can’t care about looks.

Every time a higher class man marries a lower class woman it leads to a lower class woman also marrying a higher class man. Men would be marrying lower class women more often than women were marrying lower class men, but equally this implies that women would be marrying higher class men more often than men would be marrying higher class women. So the reduction in correlation of status between men marrying women vs women marrying men would go both ways, even if it was just men caring more about looks than women.

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Embedded in these calculations is the idea that once a person is married they aren't free to marry somebody else. But serial monogramy is the norm. I'd be interested in learning if materially successful men tend to have more marriages than the mean, or the median. The upper echelon women do not have to 'marry down' if they are willing to be married for a shorter term. How do the 'formerly married' show up in these surveys?

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It’s an interesting post but the concept of hypergamy is very different than the one I’m used to reading about. In the redpill manosphere hypergamy is more about the type of man a woman will choose for sex vs the type of man she will marry. Beta bucks(good provider)vs Alpha fucks. It’s a woman’s duel sexual strategy. Women will marry a man of equal or lesser status if he is a reliable dependable provider but will cheat and fuck a man who is culturally more masculine or exciting. This understanding of hypergamy goes along way in describing why women cheat and marriages fail. When I saw title of the post I was hoping Scott would be critiquing the manosphere.

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I think you are over-simplfiying the "rich people meet poor people all the time".

First, how do they know? in apps, Status markers can be different for different classes/cultures. Is it an expensive car? a trip overseas? I mean, it is all abstract, no one is saying "I swiped right because I estimated he/she makes 180K a year".

You just, kind of, look at the clothes, the setting, and how they make you feel - and you just feel better about things that match high status for your class/culture - that are status markers for you.

So, for example, a googler would have pictures from trips abroad, and a girl from the Appalachians (to be stereotypical) would be looking for a big truck.

Secondly, even though rich people meet poor all the time, they don't meet them in social settings. Most people don't chat with the cleaner in the office, or the cashier at the shop.

The people they meet in social settings are much more likely to be from their own class.

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"So it seems more like neither gender cares about looks than that both do.

How do we square this with the fact that obviously men care a lot about whether women are attractive or not?

Also, rich people meet poor people all the time. Poor people are their secretaries, servants, waitresses, and Uber drivers. Sometimes they have casual sex with these people. They just don’t (usually) marry them."

Yes,that's pretty much it. I won't say all wealthy/high-status men did it, but traditionally there was always the mistress for looks (and other things, intelligent conversation and social ease are also part of it) while you married a woman of your own class/status as wife and mother.

There's an anecdote and I can't remember the exact details, about a king being rebuked by his confessor for taking mistresses instead of remaining faithful to his wife. The king arranged that the confessor should have partridge every day for dinner, and after a while asked the confessor if he was tired of it. Upon being told yes, he would like to eat something else, the king said "The same way you are tired of eating the same thing every day, even though it is the best, is why I take mistresses".

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May 24·edited May 24

What about the supposed female tendency to get useless degrees for their 'educational attainment'? A woman with a four year degree in gender and women's studies is less educated in absolute terms than her boyfriend who got a two year in cybersecurity, and also earns less money. Of course, they might not bother to marry - she'd lose her health insurance.

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Gays also have higher libidos, which maybe a part of explanation why partner's income is less significant for them.

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> ... the entire distribution is equal-gamous

If you're making up a term, you might as well say "iso-gamous".

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Has intelligence been studied? Personally, I care more about that than income, class, or education - though I’m sure there are correlations.

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I’m the guy who wrote that negative review of Richard Reeves book that Scott mentioned above [taboo.substack.com/p/reeves]. I wanted to give a little context for that.

There’s a lot of good things about the book, Reeves brings up how dismal family courts are for men, how the American Psychological Association has defined masculinity as pathological, how the government is failing to take action on many of the crises affecting young men. But he had some faulty interpretations of the education data that ended up leading him to victim blame boys for the education gap. I dug into the data on that in my review and have a forecast coming out soon on college enrollment.

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May 24·edited May 24

As a gay guy, a pretty obvious fact about gay dating is that you're already forced to be selective on a rare trait, namely *being gay*, which leaves a lot less room to be selective on other traits.

You might prefer a partner of the same social class, but the usual routes by which straight people meet such partners --- university classmates, work colleagues, friends-of-friends, etc. --- are only ~5% effective if you're gay. So typically you're forced to be more open-minded about meeting people outside of your immediate circles (or shifting your social circles to be mostly gay, i.e., joining the 'gay community', which amounts to the same thing).

This predicts that gay relationships will tend to look more heterogenous (less selective, more like random cross-assignment) on any other axis you care to choose: race, class, education, age, religion, and so on. Many of the other explanations (gays being more likely to meet through cruising, apps, etc) seem to me to be epiphenomena of this reality: not wrong, but fundamentally downstream of the basic math of the situation.

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I’m not sure you can assume no class-attractiveness correlation in general, but in particular in any dataset going back to the 19th Century there are going to be fairly substantial class-cosmetics and class-soap correlations.

More relevantly, education level is a terrible proxy for social class unless you very carefully rank it by institution (and institution class, not institution quality, to avoid putting MIT above Middlebury); you’d want either parents’ education level or grandparents’ income.

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Insight from a friend: perhaps women are still hypergamous on education, but the crashing marriage rate may be disguising this fact? Perhaps women are still, on average, discerning on education status but many are not marrying partly for this reason?

IMO other factors like the illusion of choice and the assumption that they need to be farther along in their careers to properly raise a child are bigger factors. However, it seems plausible hypergamy on education must account for the decline in marriage partially.

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May 24·edited May 24

Many men view female education as a negative for marriage. When they meet a social worker, rather than thinking wow, she has a masters, they think wow, 100k in debt, next. It’s literally a reverse dowry.

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TLDR: IMHO, the people who ACTUALLY USE the word "hypergamous" who you will encounter at a bar or family gathering are men who WANT TO BE hypergamous, but for hot ladiez and not education, but are unable to so they seize on this word as a pat explanation.

Something that is hinted at but not really satisfied is that the people who use the word "hypergamy" are not usually making strong intellectual points. The PUAs and MRAs on reddit from 8-10 years ago were complaining of female hypergamy where it applied to not dating them and instead dating interesting chads who had money and big dicks, while complaining that they could be "male hypergamous" and get laid by a different woman every night of the week.

And also, I feel like something is missing... In my experience, there is a LOT of dating activity that isn't captured in the studies that you have access to. My dating career in Toronto was flush with a lot of dates that I had no real right to, simply because I was a moderately successful man in a city full of highly educated women who would never date a man with a blue collar job, who can talk the talk on Tinder.

And if you come to a nearby Canadian city of Hamilton, Ontario, you see a lot of moderately attractive men with very unattractive women. The educated people (women) flee to Toronto and set up an unequal dating pool there, and leave an unequal dating pool behind in Hamilton.


How I prefer to use "hypergamy":

- hypergamy == dating up for any reason

- people who are highly sensitive to the dimension of which they are being hypergamous and who STRIVE for it

Why? Most of the time I encountered the practical usage of the term was in complaints that women were "branch swinging B***s" who would leave you for a better man at the drop of a hat. There were very few reasoned arguments.

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I wonder if there is more hypergamy in religious communities, small towns, etc. not so much because they’re more “traditional” but because there are more opportunities to develop strong social relationships across class lines when you go to the same church and live in a town of 10k people vs if you are secular and live in a large city. In the latter case, you’re almost assuredly meeting someone through work or friends (which would strongly increase the odds of people having equal educational/income) or apps.

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Alternate hypothesis: marriages sort by g (general intelligence), which is correlated with education, income, status, and attractiveness.

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My understanding is that it's the difference between stated preferences and actual choices.

Virtually every large study - some cross-cultural - shows that men will rate looks a bit higher than women do whilst women rate financial resources a bit higher than men do. However when you look at actual relationships/marriages, you find evidence of assortative mating. People are pairing up with those who are similar to them. The highest correlations are in social status, education/intelligence, political and religious views, etc.

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Off the top of my head, hypergamy is driven by the characteristics that make women hypergamous (focus, drive for security, etc.), rather than the money or education per se. that I, hypergamy is a proxy for those characteristics.

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May 24·edited May 24

I haven't read the post in full because I got confused right away. Doesn't 'older, more educated men marrying younger, less educated women' solve this? Why doesn't that let you to have both absolute and relative hypergamy always even with everyone getting married, it's just that the men get an education first, marry when older, women marry young first, get education later?

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I propose an alternative conjecture for women marrying down and I'd be curious to the extent that the data supports or refutes it: education matters less than it used to. It was only ever a proxy for the things women actually cared about (income, social class, etc) and we are in the early stages of the correlation starting to fail. I'm not saying it's already failed (although maybe it has) but rather it's lost momentum as a signifier. The most successful people of my generation in my family are among the least educated, maybe we're an outlier but I suspect we aren't.

As for the lack of rich white Google programmers marrying stunning girls from the class fringes, you yourself posited the most likely answer some years back when you were living in Michigan: people self-segregate at an almost unbelievable that-number-is-so-big-you-obviously-made-it-up level. Going to university is the one chance (at least in America?) to really mix with people of even slightly different social classes, and the people who become rich Google programmers were busy studying and hacking.

Naively I would expect the trends and preferences to be for the "best" marriage in your social circle, which will be circumscribed and kinda homogenous. You don't marry the prettiest girl you've ever met, you marry the prettiest girl you know well enough to date and eventually marry. You don't marry the richest man you've ever met, you marry the richest man you know well enough that he asks you out and you eventually get married. I don't have to tell you that it's actually really hard (especially in crowds that put a de-emphasis on traditional gender roles) to pursue a relationship with someone, you just aren't going to go way outside your own tribe to find the "best deal on the market".

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Personal anecdotes from one woman:

When I look inward at my character flaws, I find that I do care a lot about status in a partner, but it has little to do with income or education.

I care if my partner can make other people jealous. This can be through a combination of measurable qualities such as attractiveness and height, and hard to measure qualities such as charisma, interestingness, suave-ness, and involvement in the community.

I think it's possible that women could select for status, and that this would be undetectable in studies.

On the other hand, I do consider this a character flaw: I know in my brain that "ability to make other people jealous" is not going to make me happy in the long run!

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If feel like all the conclusions are about actual marriage outcomes in modern society rather than underlying preferences (which is fine! Outcomes are important, revealed preference is interesting!). But I think a lot of the thinkers you're responding to here are talking about the more basic evolutionary impulses that in practice get tempered by societal pressure/increasing age of marriage/long term planning for child success.

You could have also written a post about how everyone says men are naturally polygamous, but that in Western Europe and North America you find very few instances of men actually legally marrying multiple women.

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I work in anti-fraud and identity theft and can speak on that angle, although I think its a small contributor overall to what you are interested in here. You state that scam artists are mostly women trying to scam men. This is not actually the case. Its mostly men scamming both genders, though women (or at least female voices) are very useful for actually accomplishing the fraud, they aren’t strictly speaking necessary, especially now with AI advances. Fake AI generated women, both photos and voices, slammed into the romance fraud world like a tsunami in the last 6 months. The reason this feels like its primarily an area when men are the primary targets is simply b/c there are many more men than women on dating sites and replying to personal ads etc than there are women. Women honestly looking for a relationship tend to succeed much faster than men and use online tools less, so the mark pool is mostly full of men. While the majority of romance fraud victims are in fact men, from my experience when women are taken by it they tend to lose more money, are harder to convince it’s a fraud, and generally have fewer defenses against manipulation. They skew older as well.

All the dating site data is ruined by this reality. You mention a baseline of men sending low quality “want to bang?” type messages possibly confounding the data. While its difficult to know exactly what the numbers are, I would speculate that automated romance fraud “fishing” messages outnumber them considerably. The majority of the messages all men receive on dating sites from “women” are fishing bots from romance scammers. The footnote with the anecdotes from the woman trying to use Christian Mingle, and her confusion with the experience, pattern matches automated fraud-bots. When she mentions men not responding to her messages, or her replying to men but then they seem to disappear is explained by those “men” not being real. These are likely fishing messages where an actual human is not available to pick up the mark for a number of reasons, most likely the bot has been abandoned but is still running mindlessly as CM has bad automated enforcement processes against bad actor accounts. Or based on her replies she was written off as a bad prospect.

None of this really speaks to the subject of hypergamy in any meaningful way, but it does explain why the messaging data from dating sites is worse than useless.

(Romance frauds are among the saddest professional experiences I have. Most other marks are vulnerable to scams due to a combination of greed, stupidity, arrogance, and entitlement. Romance fraud victims are often just lonely and inexperienced with the opposite sex.)

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When we say men want beauty in women, I think that mostly means youth!

So doing stats on some objective measures of beauty misses what's really going on.

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I know, statistically insignificant, but my fat, dorky computer geek friend (the one who said that programming can be learned in a couple of days) has been married for some decades now to a black lady.

My friend also is very rich, and a high school dropout, so he's a statistical outlier in pretty much everything he touches.

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Not wading through 137 comments to check if others have brought this up, but is the drunk searching for his keys under the lamppost issue in play?

We can check marriage data because of licenses. We cannot check common law marriages, long term dating where both sides are happy but they don’t want to get married, casual dates, or hook ups.

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Honest question: income is relatively easy to measure, but how does one determine who is "more educated"?

If someone has a BA, Summa Cum Laude in Deep Thinkin' from Stanford and put off grad school so they could get paid the big bucks to Think Deep Thoughts, are they more or less educated than someone who stumbled through a masters' from a third tier State U?

Does having a law degree from a US law school (juris doctor) make you more or less educated than someone who has a masters in social work? Where does an MBA fit in?

You get the idea. Social status and attractiveness seem even harder to quantify.

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Yes, I agree, it was much more! Drenched in dense data! Thank you for this effort.

It got me researching into mating strategies in China where I was busy being assembled for 13 years along with iPhones and I learned a little about how much I didn’t know about Chinese culture and its persons. Specializing in couples I discovered how dismal the marriages were—mirages.

I note (did I miss it eyes dizzy with data?) you had nothing about China and I think that will be different in terms of the education hypergamy where it definitely seems to be big time.

Have a view:


In China, where education has become the ultimate marker of social class, match-making platforms are helping users screen out graduates of inferior colleges.


And remember China now has some 30 MILLION MORE MEN THAN WOMEN, whew and the trend is 50 million in 2050. https://blog.gitnux.com/china-gender-imbalance-statistics/

I know single Chinese men who are having to take things in hand, ahem, and things are definitely desperate. And the single women are also taking things in hand and seeking those Beachboy Good Vibrations it seems:

HOW WOMEN ARE RESHAPING CHINA’S SEX TOYS INDUSTRY, LITERALLY Sixth Tone, by Yang Caini, May 10, 2023 https://www.sixthtone.com/news/1012845

And the Sheng Nu “Women Leftovers” is a testament to women refusing to bind their feet but choosing to walk away upright.

REVIEW: THE 'LEFTOVER' WOMEN SHAPING CHINA RNZ, by Jeremy Rees, 23 February 2023 https://www.rnz.co.nz/stories/2018654955/review-the-leftover-women-shaping-china

Stay in a permanent partnership if you have one; or get one if you don’t.

“It is a striking fact, for example, that mortality rates in the United States for all causes of death, and not just for heart disease, are consistently higher for divorced, single, and widowed individuals of both sexes and all races. Some of the increased death rates in unmarried individuals rise as high as ten times the rates for married individuals of comparable ages.” A Cry Unheard—New insights into the medical consequences of loneliness by James J. Lynch.

"What is hell? I maintain that it is the suffering of being unable to love.” Fyodor Dostoevsky

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> no tendency for ugly rich people to marry attractive poor people.

I know Netflix recently had a documentary on Anna Nicole Smith, and it's hard not to think of her marriage to that rich guy on death's door after previously marrying a FAR lower class man.

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"But as long as this is still uncommon, the norm against it persists and women who earn too much have a hard time."

I'm amazed that "women earning so much money" would be considered a problem for women, as opposed to men and boys falling behind in the education system for 40 years and artificially delaying their income/career progression being a problem crying out for rectification? (I dunno, unless the argument is just that women have biologically superior work ethic, in which I would like to know which of our other social policy institutions accepts outcomes predicated on Sex A being innately superior at a given task to Sex B.)

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I think this elides the fact that attending college is a class emulation process. So you do know rich men who date a beautiful woman from rural West Virginia, provided she completes government subsidized finishing school.

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May 24·edited May 24

I cannot find it right now, but IIRC, Gary Becker had a piece long ago that looked at how different immigrant groups educated their children back in the day (late 19th-early 20th Cs). I don't recall the findings precisely, but from what I remember, both Irish and German immigrants gave their daughters more formal education than their sons because the latter learned skilled trades and could support a family that way. There were very few occupations open to woman that enabled them to support themselves reasonably (while they were they remained unmarried) and these required formal education: at that time, it was essentially school teacher and eventually nursing for women. For men, plumbing, carpentry, masonry, etc, which were learned outside of school.

To the extent that it remains the case that men can earn more than women with less education, this is one plausible reason for women's having more schooling than men (see Zuckerberg & Chan)

To the extebb

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> They want someone who shares their norms and values.

I think this explains the class correlation right here. Your “class” isn’t your income+education, it’s your upbringing, which is tied to your -parents- income+education (or even your grandparents). Recall Fussell on Class: suddenly making a lot of money doesn’t make you upper-class, it just makes you nouveau riche.

Even with the rise of online dating, people generally marry people from within their own IRL social circles, or people they meet online who could plausibly become members of their social circles. This goes for marrying up as well as marrying down. As hypothetically appealing as marrying a Hollywood starlet might seem, in reality it would mean completely upending my life. People want the highest-status “normal” partner they can find, for whatever “normal” means to them.

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May 24·edited May 24

Here's a bit of extremely broad anecdotal evidence based on my lifelong experience with school teachers (grand- and great-grandparents, parents, dating partners, colleagues, friends, parents friends, etc.) At least here in the U.S. public K-12 teachers are expected to have considerable education. In some school districts (e.g. in districts here in Washington State) they're expected to accumulate additional degrees or even advanced degrees just to keep their jobs.

In my experience most of these teachers have more education than their partners, most of whom have no more than a bachelor's degree. They typically have similar or lower incomes than their partners.


While we're at it, I think there's now probably enough accumulated data, both from dating sites as well as census and other demographic sampling, to see if "evolutionarily determined" hypergamy applies to same-sex relationships.


Finally, consider the common phrase among men that some prospective partner is "out of your league." Compared to the surprising infrequency of women who claim they're out of a prospective partner's "league." One tends to wonder how much of the male experience of "hypergamy" is internalized? If one's reaction to a prospective partner is "she'd never give me the time of day" then is *she* the one making the "hypergamous" decision?

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May 24·edited May 24

While the discussion of education is interesting, it's not at all a central component of what I'd think of when discussing hypergamy. I've never heard red-pillers say "the secret to success with women is getting a Master's degree, even if it's in a low-paying field".

A more central example is something like this chart (https://rudd-o.com/archives/female-hypergamy-in-a-single-chart/@@display-file/picture/The%20post-sexual-revolution%20sex%20dynamics.jpeg), where women see the average man as below-average in terms of attractiveness. Women obsess over the top decile of men far more than the reverse, leading to an exceptional gini coefficient where a small amount of men have a huge amount of sex, while the rest of men get table scraps. This has always been the case throughout history but apps like Tinder have amplified it. From this study (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/367325876_Sexual_loneliness_A_neglected_public_health_problem):

> The distribution of the number of sex partners among American heterosexual men was skewed already, but in just ten years, the distribution of sex partners among men became even more skewed. During the same time, there was no such change in the number of sex partners for heterosexual women. Sex is concentrated within a small, yet sexually active, group of people. In one study, it was reported that the 5 % of the population with the highest number of vaginal sex acts (penile-vaginal-intercourse) accounted for more vaginal sex acts than the bottom 50 % of the population with the lowest number of vaginal sex acts. 4 Using the Gini index, it is found that the distribution of the number of sex partners both for men and women throughout their lifespan is as unequal as the distribution of wealth among the most unequal countries in the world (South Africa Gini 0.63 in 2014 and Namibia Gini 0.59 in 2015).

Also, I'd echo what a few others have pointed out: while the latin root of "hypergamy" technically refers specifically to marriage, people (at least non-academics) use the term in reference to relationships more broadly.

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>Maybe this isn’t as common-sensically wrong as it seems. I know many rich male Google programmers, but I have never seen any of them marry a stunning black girl from the ghetto. Why not? Wouldn’t the hypergamy hypothesis pronounce this a good deal for both of them? He gets a beautiful wife, she gets a rich husband? And it’s not just a race thing, I’ve also never seen them marry a beautiful hillbilly from West Virginia, or a beautiful farmer’s daughter from Modesto. I don’t even really see them marry a beautiful girl from the suburbs with a community college degree.

That kind of thing (minus the interracial aspect) used to be more common in the past. Today it wouldn't fly since that kind of marriage is likely to end in divorce and the high-earning man will wind up paying a boatload of "child support" money even if he managed to get joint custody.

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"Everyone’s first goal is to marry the highest-class person they can, but women prefer husbands whose class is lopsided towards income, and men prefer wives whose class is lopsided towards education."

This model plays out frequently in rural areas. Women with 4 yr Elementary Ed degrees from Cowtown Teachers College are, I suppose by the metrics of these studies, more educated than the electrician or contractor type they usually pair off with. As a teacher, she is definitionally middle class whereas her contractor husband is "high prole" (using the Paul Fussell groupings). She knows he carries status and money, and he knows she was able to get a 4 year degree so she probably isn't gonna act like she's on the Jerry Springer show. As you say, they have both prioritized the part of class that actually matters to them. And at this level, her time at some podunk directional school doesn't make their interests or worldviews incompatible.

I assume when you move into elite urban enclaves, you'd see a reskinned version of this with women from upper middle class backgrounds with JDs and MAs marrying guys from lower middle class backgrounds who dropped out of college to enter tech fields or have bachelor's degrees that led to lucrative jobs in finance or engineering. But it does seem like the chance for her education to have altered her worldview and values is much higher having spent 5-7 years at a real school with an academic focus, making that class dip a bit trickier to navigate.

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You identified it in section VI. The people who care about this started noticing it on dating sites and from PUAs. There's not very significant hyperGAMY; per your point that people generally have to live with their spouse and prefer to mate as assortatively as possible. The thing PUAs and bloggers and social critics and the terminally-online college age youth who read their thoughts are noticing is hyperLAGNY (sex having, not marriage). There is a very strong effect, which you mention regarding the wealthy and the stereotype of affairs with servants, of women being sexually available to men of higher status. It's just that those men rarely repay the favor with marriage.

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Comment from a former female coworker to me (a male):

"I've seen a number of smart male friends marry dumb women. I've never seen a smart female friend marry a dumb man."

IF this observation is applicable to the general population, one presumes that men are more likely to forego intelligence in a spouse for physical attractiveness than women are.

I took it as a compliment as my wife is more intelligent than I am.

For what it's worth, my female coworker was likely an XXY person who exhibed a mix of male and female physical characteristics. She identified as a woman, was a strong feminist, and was extraordinarily intelligent.

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You can't just take a snapshot of who is married to whom and who is unmarried. You have to look at it longitudinally.

Many agrarian societies managed to be relatively hypergamous because younger women would be married to older men and status increased with age.

(are these studies counting widows?)

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Hrm.... Regarding the differences between same sex and opposite sex couples... one obvious possible difference is available population/selection size. This suggests a possible question to ask: How do things look if we look at same sex couples where both partners happen to be strongly bisexual, and thus the fact that they're a same sex couple is more likely to be a "just happened to work out that way" thing rather than either specifically searching for same sex partners. Would that subset look more like the tight assortment of opposite sex couples or the looser assortment of same sex couples?

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On the looks point specifically, I think men do a good job of deluding/realizing (I like to think it's the latter) that the person they're into is good-looking after they fall for them. No one is like "I love her but she's a 3 at best" despite the fact that there are obviously 3s in this world.

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Interesting, but I find it hard to trust the studies' conclusion if they don't account for age gaps (which correlates with income gap but maybe less so with class).

Also the term "class" has to be defined better, and I'll bet it means different things in the British study and the US study.

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May 24·edited May 24

I've gone to great (heroic) lengths to make myself my attractive, and pursued women in lower socioeconomic classes for casual relationships but I would probably never marry them.

I guess that probably sounds crass but my point is, marriage is FAR from the be all end all of the sexual marketplace. Whereas, marriage is a social and economic arrangement as much as a sexual one

In the short term market looks dominate for both sexes, obviously.

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My wife has a higher level of education than I do, but she also tells me that I'm one of the smartest people that she's ever met. She also makes more money than I do, though that wasn't always the case. I'm curious how much relative IQ plays a role and how it compares to the relative education of couples.

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I know Scott briefly touched on this in the footnotes, but I think age difference is a factor. Stats on age differences would help, but to take a fairly extreme case where the man is 30 and the woman is 23,

- it’s more likely that he earns more

- it’s more likely that at that moment, he has a higher degree of education

- it’s likely that he perceives her to be pretty (say, compared with his college cohort and work colleagues)

- in a vague way, his age confers status on him besides money and education

Later on, everything could change, but for now, they can in a way “play act” that he is immutably higher-status and she is immutably gorgeous.

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Something I saw a few years ago that has always stuck with me:

"If you ask women who they would prefer as a mate, [a famous movie-star] or a waiter who looks just like him, most women will choose the movie-star. If you ask men who they would prefer as a mate, [a famous movie-star] or a waitress who looks just like her, most men will choose the waitress."

Presumably, women choose the movie-star because they're attracted to status, while men choose the waitress because they seek respect, which they are more likely to get from a waitress than a famous movie-star.

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Even in atomized cultures like that of the 21st century United States, marriage usually implies one is joining an extended family, and extending one's own family. Even when children aren't planned, but even moreso when they are. This matters. To varying degrees, but on average, a lot. This is somewhere between the explanation of and the definition of in-class homogamy.

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I'm fairly confused by the "men and women are equally and highly class homogamous, therefore nobody cares about looks very much" point. This argument seems to assume that both (a) class and looks are the only [relevant] dimensions on which people vary; (b) people are willing to trade off between these.

That seems...plausible..but not necessarily true? Here's a sketch of a different world which shows the class-matching but has relevant asymmetric looks preferences:

- Everyone marries only within their social class; to do otherwise is unthinkable.

- People within a class vary on many dimensions: looks, but also sense of humor, kindness, ability to cook, willingness to share household chores, etc.

- So within each class there's still a spectrum of mate quality.

- Men care proportionally more about looks, women proportionally less.

- So within each social class, funny men who are gentle and will share household labor tend to marry more beautiful women, unfunny jerks tend to marry less beautiful women, etc.

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The study with better-when-wife-is-prettier results is n=82 pairs of mainly students. I wouldn't put that much faith in that. https://sci-hub.st/10.1037/0893-3200.22.1.135

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I suppose that marriage data is easier to get than dating data, but it's still looking at the wrong thing, IMO. Marriage (in most countries) means taking on a huge legal responsibility, and if you're marrying down in terms of income and class, this incurs serious financial risks if things go wrong. And people know that they often do.

Casual sex (mentioned in the post), on the other hand, is wrong for the opposite reason: of course people want to have casual sex with beautiful partners, and of course their income has little to do with that.

I would say that the relevant notion would be dating, defined as spending lots of time with the person and perhaps (but not necessarily) living together; this is the level where you care deeply about what the person is like outside of bed, but you are not taking on serious financial risks by being with that person, so this should give a less skewed picture of preferences. I have no idea whether this kind of data is available, though.

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Attractive people make more money. That eases the discussion.

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Doesn't your analysis forget how people mingle? People tend to clump together based on the same interests, schools or proximity. This tends to re-enforce class. As a rich "ugly" male is unlikely to cross pass with a stunning "ghetto" woman. Therefore you tend to trade off between partners within your social group.

Hasn't the real concern been that dating apps break this limit social grouping such that woman have a larger pool of men to draw upon for relationships, resulting in the top x% of men getting a disproportionate amount of the female population. This mismatch allows for the mento have lots of short term relationships, and burns out the women on men and dating or they only turn to men outside the x% after their used by date. Isn't that the fundamental concern people have about hypogamy?

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Hm, I will probably get some backlash for that, but here it goes anyway:

I would like to know how "same status" is "calculated"? Because it is mentioned multiple times, that "today" women outperform men in education and so their status got higher. And well... yeaaaaah... but in what areas? In most "western countries" it is still the norm, that men/women study quite different stuff. Men are most commonly found in "hard sciences" like IT, Engineering, Physics, ... - women on the other hand are often enrolled in some "social studies", Philosophy, Drama, ... (the medical area is a special case here)

Are degrees in those field "similar"? Yeah, the woman with the degree in African Studies marries someone with a degree in Mathematics. So they are "the same status" ... but are they? And how does the different income of those two come in effect later?

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When I lived in the US, I used to buy the NYT. It has an engagement section and it was pretty clear that it was all Finighan-Coleville 3rd marrying Webster-Carringtion 2nd, and so on. Sometimes you would get a Jewish name. I don’t recall much inter racial engagements although that might be different now.

There was often a pedigree attached (son or daughter of this Ambassdor, or that justice, or that academic) on both sides.

Seems that that eastern elite class definitely intermarries. Whether the well paid google engineer is as fusy I don’t know, but in strict Marxist terms he’s a proletarian

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This Video/Article with comments is Referenced Here:

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May 25th, 2023, Thursday Morning, Index Number 1905:

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I know several men who have wed twice, had two batches of children and for both wives it was their first marriage. The second time around the wife was considerably younger than the husband.

Is this so rare that it can be disregarded? Or is this a workaround for hypergamy?

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I would add only one point to this extensive and cogent analysis. There has been a slow decoupling of education from both class and income over the past six decades. That's why educational homogamy has decreased, but not class & income homogamy. This has been caused by the huge increase in the number of people receiving post-secondary education, and the decreasing quality of that education. I recall a report several years ago that, in the U.S.A., 25% of baristas and 10% of parking lot attendants had earned a degree or diploma from a university or college. It's become somewhat of a standard joke that a bachelor degree in the liberal arts gives you the opportunity to work under the assistant manager who has a high school diploma, and the manager who has a community college diploma.

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You focus too much on marriage. A HUGE blind spot in the data is on sex and who has sex with who. Sure, a guy may not marry a lower class beautiful woman, but we all know he will sleep with her.

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Not everyone marries. Pew reports that almost 40% of US adults are currently unpartnered. Looking at their charts, the unpartnered, whether male or female, lag behind their partnered peers on markers such as education, income, living independently, not being institutionalized.


Appearance may lead to romantic interest at the beginning, but other factors come into play with time, such as personality, character, behavior and compatibility. Doing well in a career corresponds with social skills such as good manners, the ability to handle disagreement, etc.

I am not certain that dating apps would increase hypergamy. Does anyone know how the apps select the profiles presented to the users? Talking with friends, it seems to me that different people see unique selections; it would not surprise me at all to know that some of the factors in the matches are connected to class.

And then, there's the fact that income doesn't necessarily match social background. A number of children of the really wealthy pursue careers that don't pay well, but are useful and socially respected, such as teachers, artists, nonprofit staffers.

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The bit about looks seeming not to matter much was especially interesting. I'm thinking that it probably does matter a lot but it's mainly just about meeting some minimum standard. If your standards are lower then it might appear that looks "matter less" to you simply because more potential partners are able to meet them, even though you're just as likely as others to reject someone who doesn't meet your standard.

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I wonder what correlation all of these have with the well-documented decline in birthrate in most developed economies (apropos of the referenced DeBoer's article), which also often tend to parade a population of highly educated and socially mobile women?

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Thanks for the clear and enlightening post! I'm not sure I understand the swipe at (feminist) academics, though.

Setting aside that the quotations provided are from different authors and academics are known to occasionally have different opinions from each other, is there any contradiction in believing that freedom-restricting societal norms tend to be upheld when straight people systematically sort themselves into couples where the man earns slightly more than the woman, and tend to be eroded when queer people pair off with little regard for each other's economic background?

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I couln't find any reference in the article or the comments to the issue of age, so maybe I'm missing something obvious.

But on my naive model, age is the missing factor here. I believe on average older men marry younger women, and since status, education and income all grow with age, while beautiy and attractiveness decline with it, I wouldn't naively expect any problem with hypergammy of all sorts even if women on average had more than men on every single factor. The question would be how do women stack up to men in terms of status at the time of marriage.

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May 26·edited May 27

As most people compromise on their marriage choice sooner or later, reductive statistical analysis into this or that dimension of "revealed" preferences may muddle more than clarify.

Loosely checking David Deida... The broad spirit of female hypergamy apparently lies in looking for a superiority feature in a man to admire or appreciate. Largely, that used to be (and still is) status, wealth, physique, education - but if these factors become gamed or skewed too much, then a dude may show something else rather exceptional.

By the way, the topic of hypergamy was touched in the commentary to Scott Aaronson's blog, particularly around the posts #26-#52 here: https://scottaaronson.blog/?p=5171

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Am I in a hypogamous or hypergamous marriage? Or is my marriage... iso-gamous?

I have a bachelor's degree and work in a white collar job. My husband dropped out of community college to work for his parents' restaurant--he's very smart and could have finished school, but the money on offer was too good to refuse. He makes slightly less per hour than I do, but makes more than double what I make per year because he works double my hours. (I have some health issues so I work part time.) All of my parents and grandparents are college-educated, but none of his parents or grandparents are. I grew up solidly middle class, approaching upper middle class (dad military officer, mom stay-at-home); he grew up working class (dad military enlisted, mom a waitress), although his parents' restaurant ended up being very successful and shot them into upper middle class when he was in his early 20s.

We're probably both solid 6s when it comes to physical attractiveness, if that's relevant.

I think we should make "isogamous" a thing, haha.

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I wonder about an analysis that looks at emotional intelligence. We know there to be significant differences in physical ability between men and women. Do signals of emotional intelligence in a man (I.e., woman can be more confident to not get abused) allow for more hypogamy across other dimensions without increasing chances of divorce?

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This is a field where 'Simpson's paradox' arises with a vengeance. Some subpopulations have hypergamy preference for females and 'education' of certain types can be both a relevant signaling and screening device. In my own community, ceteris paribus, the rule used to be that the husband should be one degree higher- e.g. wife has B.A, husband has MA. However, this reversed itself in the Sixties and Seventies when girls stayed longer in College but still could not enter the job market on equal terms. Now, there is more emphasis of enterprise, rather than education. A person with a diploma who has a start-up outranks a Lecturer with a PhD. This isn't pure income based hypergamy. It's more like a proxy for genetic or epigenetic contribution to future progeny.

In some Islamic countries- e.g. Tunisia, Iran- which previously had a 'bride price' culture- female education becomes a type of reverse bride-price or 'dowry'. Moreover, a daughter's earnings may become important for the parents. They would prefer a lower status 'live-in' son-in-law who may be 'blue collar'- e.g. plumber, cab-drive etc.- but this creates its own tensions.

We would expect heterosexual marriage (for the fertile cohort) to show either bride-price, or female hypergamy because of asymmetric parental investment. However, for endogamous groups, the Price equation militates for more complex solutions to the stable marriage problem. 'Education' itself might be part of that solution which explains why, in many fields, it correlates poorly with Income.

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Studies comparing the education of married couples should distinguish between education levels at the time they met vs after they were married.

It is not improbable that in a significant number of cases women are able to indulge in more edu *because* they've engaged in the income hypergamy of marrying a man who "got a real job" and thus can afford her that luxury.

Even prior to marriage... it's harder for a man to continue with more edu under the assumption he might be able to marry someone who would be earning more and have that to fall back on.

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Re the Christian Mingle footnote, a therapist who knew I hoped to meet somebody once advised me not to go on Catholic Match, because from what female clients had told him it was full of fetishists with a “Catholic school girl” thing... possibly the evangelicals are experiencing something similar...

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Re: section VI, it seems obvious intuitively that a person's class affects how they present themselves, in a way that tends to make them more attractive to people of their class and less attractive to people of other classes—at least, higher ones.

For example, as a middle-class man, I don't find the way working-class women present themselves appealing. Positing two physically identical women, one working-class, one middle-class, I'm going to find the middle-class one more attractive based on how she presents herself. Not clear to me whether a working-class man typically prefers a working-class woman over a middle-class one, but I would think so.

A woman of a particular class's way of presenting herself as attractive is not very legible to men of other classes, I would say.

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How would you define class?

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Jun 14·edited Jun 14

I think hypergamy is still not a viable strategy for marriages insofar as marriages still almost exclusively require significant compatibility on a variety of meat-space axes that prevent a lot of cross-class, cross-race, cross-industry, and other cross-group pairings.

Cyberspace allows for total mixing and hypergamy along whichever axis people find most important. However, only hookups and flings are really low-cost enough in meat-space for this to take effect, and why Discourse(TM) on the subject of hypergamy often comes from terminally online hookup-interested groups. And why hookup apps are the ones that actually show this hypergamous effect where the top 20% of men have the attention of 80% of women and the other 80% of men are left fighting over the bottom 20% of women. Maybe this also explains the difference between gays (happy to hook up indefinitely) and lesbians (move in together on the third date), although this includes the caveat of not giving in to crass stereotypes etc. etc.

But when it comes to building marriage-worthy relationships, they come with a significant time and social cost. You have to share values to a certain degree, as Scott mentions. You have to get along with each other's social groups, to a certain degree. You have to get along with each other's family, to a certain degree. You have to be willing to commit to living in the same place with each other. You may have to agree on education and religious upbringing of children. All this adds up to lines of race, religion, social class, economic class, etc. not getting crossed all that much when it comes to marriage.

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The problem with the first graph is that the column to the right doesn't actually represent hypergamy. It should show the women marrying 'up', and thus have an even larger gap at the top and the bottom.

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