Mayor to Ugly Women: I Was Just Trying to Up Your Market Value
The mayor of Mount Isa — an isolated town in Queensland, Australia — was vilified for making the following statement:
“May I suggest that if there are five blokes to every girl, we should find out where there are beauty-disadvantaged women and ask them to proceed to Mount Isa.”
He is simply recognizing that in the dating/marriage markets, looks are one of the commodities traded; there is substantial evidence suggesting that uglier women marry men with less human capital — men who earn less.
Asking ugly women to come to Mount Isa is just the mayor’s attempt to get them to where their scarcity might allow them to mitigate their “disadvantage” and benefit from the surplus of single men. Gains from trade make sense to this economist, although the mayor’s statement is somewhat crude.
Interestingly, the head of Mount Isa’s Chamber of Commerce noted that, “There’s a lot of anger circulating among the community. … There [are] a lot of women voicing their opinions.”
I wonder whether the women’s anger is a reaction to the mayor’s crudeness or a standard response by monopolists who are threatened with competition.