The Economics of Sugar Daddying

Not long ago, Levitt wrote about a Craigslist posting in which a woman solicited advice in marrying a man who made more than $500,000 a year. That posting eventually made the international media rounds, from the Times to the BBC News to Scientific American. But journalists have yet to jump on the wealth of posts like the following, posted in the Craigslist New York personals:

You with the long flowing hair, the mountainous, bust, the nipped in waist and the sculpted legs! You’re friggin incredible!

You’re what all guys want and what all women want to be. And on top of that, you’re smart and witty … on second thought, I don’t really give a crap about that. I’m about the boobs, and the little waist and the legs and the hair.

Anyway, like I was saying, you’re hotter than hell. And they expect you do what! To work? At a job? YOU? That just ain’t right.

Here’s where I come in. Ya see, I’m an investment banker downtown.

Now don’t get your hopes up, hot stuff. I’ll be honest with you. Unlike you, I’m not much in the looks department. So I can’t give you that. In fact, I’m a troll. Think Danny De Vito with a nicer suit.

What I do have is an apartment nearby that I’m not using. And a buncha cash I’m not using. And a poker’s hand worth of platinum and gold credit cards I’m not using either. Maybe you’d like to use them instead of going to some boring, friggin’ office.

Now, I’m gonna be upfront. This generous offer isn’t simply so you can have the privilege of living in my place, spending my money and watching my credit card balances grow. No, I would expect that in exchange for these privileges you will gladly, willingly and enthusiastically fulfill my deepest desires, especially of a sexual nature.

Let’s call it an arrangement.

In order to qualify for this arrangement, I’ll need to see several clear photos of you, both face and body. And please don’t give me any excuses about the Craigslist size limit. If you don’t have the brains to figure out how to reduce the size of your photo, you’re disqualified. If I’m interested, I’ll get back to you, if I’m not, I won’t.

So let’s hear from you and see those pics. Otherwise, don’t give up your day job.

While his offer (the likes of which tend to pop up on Craigslist boards often, with an equal chance as the gold-digger’s post of being bogus) may seem at first glance like a generous arrangement, with a little analysis it too can be dismissed as “crappy.

First, there’s the issue of opportunity cost. A woman who takes his offer is presumably already employed. Quitting her job in order to become a kept woman would mean putting her career on hold or abandoning it. Given the poster’s self-description, it’s safe to assume he has no intention of marriage or longterm financial commitment. So she is sacrificing a potential long-term career of her own for what might be a short-term financial gain with little guarantee of longevity.

Then, of course, there’s the matter of satisfaction derived from the money itself. Just as a beautiful woman could be described as a “depreciating asset,” so could a rent-free apartment with an unlimited shopping budget. A platinum card may thrill for a few months, but, particularly given the required tradeoff of supplying sexual favors to a man who describes himself as “Danny De Vito with a nicer suit,” it’s also likely to offer diminishing returns.

Lastly, there’s the risk factor. Investment banking is indeed a gold standard for high incomes — but it’s been a hard year for the markets, with the possibility of a recession still looming. Major banks are taking hits, which could mean bad news for our poster’s future employment, or at least his bonus. There’s also the possibility (increasing or decreasing depending on his age) that, at some point during the arrangement, he could become unable to work — he could get hit by a cab, or suffer a heart attack, or even be fired (perhaps for inappropriate behavior towards female coworkers?). His self-described unattractive physical appearance (not to mention loathsome personality, as exhibited in his posting) will reduce the likelihood that he will secure another high-paying job.

All of which leads us back to the conclusion put forth by the initial poster: if you’re planning to gold-dig, stick to the “MARRIAGE ONLY” rule. Then, at least, you’ll be entitled to equitable division of the spoils.

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  1. BR says:

    AMEN.

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  2. BR says:

    AMEN.

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  3. SugarUncle says:

    Don’t you think the “woman” in question is a little bit naive? Reminds me of my ex! Except that, in my defence, I’m not that squat and stocky (and excellently talented as an actor)! Some kinda situation!
    Danny, you’re the goods! Go! use other people’s money!

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  4. SugarUncle says:

    Don’t you think the “woman” in question is a little bit naive? Reminds me of my ex! Except that, in my defence, I’m not that squat and stocky (and excellently talented as an actor)! Some kinda situation!
    Danny, you’re the goods! Go! use other people’s money!

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  5. mickey mouse says:

    Good try, but your “analysis” is unfortunately very weak. You make too many assumptions about the woman’s utility function and preference orderings.

    And its obvious that if a woman takes that add too seriously, she really doesn’t have the brains to get a job and make her own money. Unfortunately, there are many women who qualify for the above.

    the incentive scheme here is a little different.
    - Men want (or have the evolutionary impulse) to do as many women as they can so that they can spread there genes
    - Girls want a care taking man to look after the offspring as the time taken for child rearing is long and it is hard for most women to be financially independent for that long.

    However, the ones who are more financially independent can be as promiscious as men.

    Try to see it from the guy’s perspective. From evolution he is doomed of mating a “hot” woman, but he has some good genes that allowed him the intellect to make his money. The transaction seems really logical actually. Though the guy should have been more tactful to get the woman in bed and then pump and dump.

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  6. mickey mouse says:

    Good try, but your “analysis” is unfortunately very weak. You make too many assumptions about the woman’s utility function and preference orderings.

    And its obvious that if a woman takes that add too seriously, she really doesn’t have the brains to get a job and make her own money. Unfortunately, there are many women who qualify for the above.

    the incentive scheme here is a little different.
    - Men want (or have the evolutionary impulse) to do as many women as they can so that they can spread there genes
    - Girls want a care taking man to look after the offspring as the time taken for child rearing is long and it is hard for most women to be financially independent for that long.

    However, the ones who are more financially independent can be as promiscious as men.

    Try to see it from the guy’s perspective. From evolution he is doomed of mating a “hot” woman, but he has some good genes that allowed him the intellect to make his money. The transaction seems really logical actually. Though the guy should have been more tactful to get the woman in bed and then pump and dump.

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  7. Kent says:

    While the bulk of your arguments make sense, the premise — that the not-so-romantic guy who posted the ad wants a woman to quit her job — does not. Most likely he just needs a woman to be available during his off hours, and since he’s an I-banker, that’s not for very long. Hot women who happen to have flourishing and/or fulfilling careers do not need to give them up to qualify.

    Also, you assume that the ad posted wants a hot girl to marry. I doubt it — more likely he just wants sexual escapades for a while, after which he will want to move onto a new girl. Happily, this works out if you believe that the thrill of exploiting his financial assets will gradually diminish until it becomes not worth the cost.

    I might also point out that there’s nothing wrong with transitory pleasures and benefits. A dinner at an expensive restaurant also yields transitory benefits, but if I could get a reservation at Per Se, I’d still go.

    Finally, even in a bad market year, mid- and high-level I bankers make some pretty decent money. So long as his credit card doesn’t get rejected, why would it matter to any potential respondent?

    So if you (not you specifically, but in a general sense) are a hot girl who just wants six months of no-limit shopping and an apartment overlooking Central Park, this might be a viable offer.

    I’m just sayin’ ….

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  8. Kent says:

    While the bulk of your arguments make sense, the premise — that the not-so-romantic guy who posted the ad wants a woman to quit her job — does not. Most likely he just needs a woman to be available during his off hours, and since he’s an I-banker, that’s not for very long. Hot women who happen to have flourishing and/or fulfilling careers do not need to give them up to qualify.

    Also, you assume that the ad posted wants a hot girl to marry. I doubt it — more likely he just wants sexual escapades for a while, after which he will want to move onto a new girl. Happily, this works out if you believe that the thrill of exploiting his financial assets will gradually diminish until it becomes not worth the cost.

    I might also point out that there’s nothing wrong with transitory pleasures and benefits. A dinner at an expensive restaurant also yields transitory benefits, but if I could get a reservation at Per Se, I’d still go.

    Finally, even in a bad market year, mid- and high-level I bankers make some pretty decent money. So long as his credit card doesn’t get rejected, why would it matter to any potential respondent?

    So if you (not you specifically, but in a general sense) are a hot girl who just wants six months of no-limit shopping and an apartment overlooking Central Park, this might be a viable offer.

    I’m just sayin’ ….

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0