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. Mikey says:

    I think you might be overestimating the opportunity cost. She could simply take cash advances on those cards, shop discount to make up the difference, and invest the cash with (presumably) a different investment banker.

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  2. Mikey says:

    I think you might be overestimating the opportunity cost. She could simply take cash advances on those cards, shop discount to make up the difference, and invest the cash with (presumably) a different investment banker.

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  3. richiep says:

    signal’s got it right. Most of these are surely false.

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  4. richiep says:

    signal’s got it right. Most of these are surely false.

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  5. Ally Kendall says:

    It’s a poor offer. Anyone who is only interested in “hot” looks is likely to be extremely tedious and uninteresting. Moreover if he were being honest, he would prefer the services of a professional. What he’s actually trying to do is find someone with even lower self-esteem than a prostitute, so that he doesn’t have to pay market scale.

    It’s generally a bad idea to enter into a business arrangement with someone you know in advance to be dishonest in their dealings.

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  6. Ally Kendall says:

    It’s a poor offer. Anyone who is only interested in “hot” looks is likely to be extremely tedious and uninteresting. Moreover if he were being honest, he would prefer the services of a professional. What he’s actually trying to do is find someone with even lower self-esteem than a prostitute, so that he doesn’t have to pay market scale.

    It’s generally a bad idea to enter into a business arrangement with someone you know in advance to be dishonest in their dealings.

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  7. Beerzie says:

    Would a person who considered such an “opportunity” even weigh these things? Would a woman who could be trusted even read past the first paragraph?

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  8. Beerzie says:

    Would a person who considered such an “opportunity” even weigh these things? Would a woman who could be trusted even read past the first paragraph?

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