Dating fatties

If we think of dating in this way, we can use the analytical tools of economics to reason about romance in the same way we reason about economies.One of the useful tools that economists use to study inequality is the Gini coefficient.If women all find every man equally attractive, the male dating economy will have a Gini coefficient of zero.If men all find the same one woman attractive and consider all other women unattractive, the female dating economy will have a Gini coefficient close to one.It seems hard to avoid a basic conclusion: that the majority of women find the majority of men unattractive and not worth engaging with romantically, while the reverse is not true.Stated in another way, it seems that men collectively create a “dating economy” for women with relatively low inequality, while women collectively create a “dating economy” for men with very high inequality.The Gini coefficient gap indicated in these studies is something like a “sexual inequality gap” or “attractiveness distribution gap,” less obvious but potentially even more socially significant than some other better-known gender gaps. Nobody can or should be blamed for his or her honest preferences, and if women collectively believe that most men are unattractive, what grounds does anyone, male or female, have to argue with them?We may pity the large majority of men who are regarded as unattractive and who have few or no romantic experiences while a small percentage of attractive men have many.

If we follow a few steps of his reasoning, we can imagine the world of dating as something like an economy, in which people possess different amounts of attractiveness (the dating economy’s version of dollars) and those with more attractiveness can access more and better romantic experiences (the dating economy’s version of consumer goods).

If these findings are to be believed, the great majority of women are only willing to communicate romantically with a small minority of men while most men are willing to communicate romantically with most women.

The degree of inequality in “likes” and “matches” credibly measures the degree of inequality in attractiveness, and necessarily implies at least that degree of inequality in romantic experiences.

The inequality between rich and poor, and its causes and remedies, are discussed ad nauseam in public policy debates, campaign platforms, and social media screeds.

However, the relentless focus on inequality among politicians is usually quite narrow: they tend to consider inequality only in monetary terms, and to treat “inequality” as basically synonymous with “income inequality.” There are so many other types of inequality that get air time less often or not at all: inequality of talent, height, number of friends, longevity, inner peace, health, charm, gumption, intelligence, and fortitude.

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