Money matters in the home, heart, and bedroom

IF YOU think that economics and sex aren't related, you couldn't be more wrong.

We're not talking about paying for sex, at least not directly.

We're talking about the interplay between libido, gender, love, power and economic forces.

In her new book Dollars and Sex, Canadian economics lecturer Dr Marina Adshade looks at how money affects everything from online dating and premarital sex to early pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.

Here's some findings from just some of the studies about love, sex and money featured in Dollars and Sex that may surprise you.


What's in a name?

Taking her husband's name at marriage suggests to potential employers that a woman is less intelligent, less ambitious, inclined to work fewer hours, and more focused on family.

And according to experimental research, women who make the choice to change their name can expect lower wages and fewer job offers as a result.

Women who keep their name also have fewer children.

Money and sex

Premarital sex is strongly tied to family income; girls who live in the poorest households are 50% more likely to be sexually active than are girls in the richest households.

Bringing home the bacon

In 1970 only 28% of husbands had more education than their wives but, despite this, only 4% of women earned more than their husbands.

In 2007, only 19% of husbands had more education than their wives, but now 22% of women earn more than their husbands.

Timing is everything

Some evidence that women are hardwired to seek high quality sexual partners for the purpose of fertility can be found in studies that show women change their preference for sexual partners depending on where they are in their menstrual cycle.

When ovulating, 93% state they would prefer a poor yet creative man for a short term sexual relationship to a financially successful but uncreative man.

When not ovulating that percentage dropped to 58%.

Who cheats

Twenty-five per cent of men and 14% of women have had an extramarital affair at some point in their lifetime.

Short men get lucky later

One study found that a short man who is economically successfully could find that later in life he has a younger wife than his taller friends.

Shorter men are more likely to still be single when they're a little older, putting them in a good position to take advantage of a later in life marriage market that is populated with younger women who are less concerned with their husbands physical appearance and more interested in his ability to provide a stable income.

In it for the equity

Couples prefer staying in less-than-satisfying marriages rather than lose equity they have built up in their existing home.

A 10% decrease in house prices decrease the divorce rate of college-educated couples (who are more likely to be home owners) by an incredible 29%.

Increasing alcohol prices reduces STDs

A study using US data found striking evidence that people respond to increases in alcohol prices by reducing both their consumption of alcohol and their risky sexual behaviour.

A $1 increase in liquor tax reduces gonorrhoea rates by 2% and a tax increase of just 20c per six pack reduces gonorrhoea rates by 9% and syphilis rates by 33%.

Looks versus money

Women prefer a man who has a medium income level over a man who has a high income level if he is physically attractive (more than 7 out of 10).

If he is less attractive, though (between a 4 and 6) women prefer a man who has a high income level over one who has a medium income level.

Face value

Singles compete heavily for very attractive people on dating sites...members with the highest "hotness" rating are far more likely to receive requests to meet.

For example, increasing a person's attractiveness rating by just 1 point (say from 5 to 6 out of 10) increases the likelihood that a person viewing that photo wants to meet by 130%.

Online daters may stay single longer

If people spend years searching for love because they struggle with determining their own value on the (online) dating market or get caught up in searching for qualities that are easy to measure like age, height, education, race and income, rather than the important experiential qualities, they may miss out on enjoying the many economic benefits of marriage earlier in their lives.

Married people get more sex

Despite the common perception that married people do not have sex as frequently as their unmarried friends, the evidence shows that married people have sex far more frequently than do single people: 76% of married people report having sex at least two to three times per month compared with 57% of never married people and 41% of those who are divorced, widowed, or separated.


Dollars and Sex An economist puts a price on sex and love by Dr Marina Adshade, $29.99, is published by Allen & Unwin.

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