Income Attraction: An Online Dating Field Experiment

29 Pages Posted: 12 Feb 2015 Last revised: 29 Apr 2018

See all articles by David Ong

David Ong

Jinan University-University of Birmingham Joint Institute

Jue Wang

University of Iowa - Department of Finance

Date Written: February 16, 2015

Abstract

We measured gender differences in preferences for mate income ex-ante to interaction (“income attraction”) in a field experiment on one of China’s largest online dating websites. To rule out unobserved factors correlated with income as the basis of attraction, we randomly assigned income levels to 360 artificial profiles and recorded the incomes of nearly 4,000 “visits” to our full profiles from search engine results. We found that men of all income levels visited our female profiles of different income levels at roughly equal rates. In contrast, women of all income levels visited our male profiles with higher incomes at higher rates. Surprisingly, these higher rates increased with the women’s own incomes and even jumped discontinuously when the male profiles’ incomes went above that of the women’s own. Our male profiles with the highest level of income received ten times more visits than the lowest. This gender difference in ex-ante preferences for mate income could help explain marriage and spousal income patterns found in prior empirical studies.

Keywords: online dating, field experiment, gender differences, matching, marriage

JEL Classification: C93, J01, J12

Suggested Citation

Ong, David and Wang, Jue, Income Attraction: An Online Dating Field Experiment (February 16, 2015). Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 111, 13-22, 2015, DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2014.12.011, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2563583 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2563583

David Ong (Contact Author)

Jinan University-University of Birmingham Joint Institute ( email )

Jinan University
University City, Panyu
Guangzhou, Guangdong 510632
China

HOME PAGE: http://https://birmingham.jnu.edu.cn/

Jue Wang

University of Iowa - Department of Finance ( email )

Iowa City, IA 52242-1000
United States

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