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. Mike says:

    While it is possible that a respondent to such a post may already be employed, this offer would seem much more appropriate for someone in their early twenties and fresh out of college. At that age they would likely be peaking in terms of physical attractiveness (apparently a requirement in this scenario)and would also be less likely to be entrenched in a career. Perhaps the opportunity cost for the sort of person who would seriously consider this offer would be less than it is suggested in the analysis.

    It should be noted that what this guy is actually attempting to do is purchase the services of a prostitute on a monthly, rather than hourly, basis.

    Also, I was trying to figure out a way to get beautiful women that I’ve never met to email me compromising pictures of themselves with absolutely no personal obligation. Thanks for the tip!

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  2. Mike says:

    While it is possible that a respondent to such a post may already be employed, this offer would seem much more appropriate for someone in their early twenties and fresh out of college. At that age they would likely be peaking in terms of physical attractiveness (apparently a requirement in this scenario)and would also be less likely to be entrenched in a career. Perhaps the opportunity cost for the sort of person who would seriously consider this offer would be less than it is suggested in the analysis.

    It should be noted that what this guy is actually attempting to do is purchase the services of a prostitute on a monthly, rather than hourly, basis.

    Also, I was trying to figure out a way to get beautiful women that I’ve never met to email me compromising pictures of themselves with absolutely no personal obligation. Thanks for the tip!

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  3. signal says:

    This is nothing of the sort you describe — the cost of this man’s signal approaches zero.

    It’s much more likely he just wants some free porn.

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  4. signal says:

    This is nothing of the sort you describe — the cost of this man’s signal approaches zero.

    It’s much more likely he just wants some free porn.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  5. iratecat says:

    Economics is economics, but there’s just plain… um… what’s it called… oh, yes, disgust.

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  6. iratecat says:

    Economics is economics, but there’s just plain… um… what’s it called… oh, yes, disgust.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  7. RobertSeattle says:

    The 5 things any man wants:

    1. It’s important to have a woman, who helps at home, who cooks from time to time, cleans up and has a job.
    2. It’s important to have a woman, who can make you laugh.
    3. It’s important to have a woman, whom you can trust and who doesn’t lie to you.
    4. It’s important to have a woman, who is good in bed and who likes to be with you.
    5. It’s very, very important that these four women do not know each other.

    Hey it Friday….

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  8. RobertSeattle says:

    The 5 things any man wants:

    1. It’s important to have a woman, who helps at home, who cooks from time to time, cleans up and has a job.
    2. It’s important to have a woman, who can make you laugh.
    3. It’s important to have a woman, whom you can trust and who doesn’t lie to you.
    4. It’s important to have a woman, who is good in bed and who likes to be with you.
    5. It’s very, very important that these four women do not know each other.

    Hey it Friday….

    Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0