Would You Take Marital Advice From an Economist?

Paula Szuchman and Jenny Anderson, authors of the new book Spousonomics, are seeking marital advice from economists on their blog. Their “Economists in Love” series asks amusing (yet pragmatic) questions such as “Which is a better way to divide the housework: 50/50 or?comparative?advantage?” and “Is your marriage a repeated game? And if so, what kinds of things have you learned with each iteration?” First up on the advice roster was our own Dan Hamermesh. Game theorist Jeff Ely has also weighed in. [%comments]


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  1. Eric M. Jones says:

    12 Steps to Relationship Wisdom:

    1) Choose women who have good credit references. If the banks think they are credit-worthy and will loan them money, they are probably pretty good women. Ask for a copy of their credit report-but never on the first date.

    2) Choose happy women. Despondent women eventually depress everyone around them including you. You can’t make them happy no matter what.

    3) Stay away from strange women. Though they may seem exotic at first, strange women eventually become a pain in the ass and you can’t even sell them to somebody else. Stick with the standard issue product.

    4) Never date a woman who owns either a dog or a bird unless you like walking her dog and talking to her bird. Trust me on this one.

    5) Women who look like they are good in bed usually are good in bed. (Some other women are very good but just don’t advertise.)

    6) Never give a crummy relationship a second chance. If it seems to be going bad early on, it will never get any better. Corollary: most passionate relationships suffer one additional bounce after they crash. Life is too short to make the same mistake twice.

    7) All relationships are good for fifteen minutes.

    8) Remember…women choose men, not the other way around-but most men can’t read the signals, and most women don’t know that. The women get pissed-off.

    9) Her kids will introduce you to the fact that you are powerless.

    10) The safest bet is that the way they are dressed and made-up when you meet them is as good as they will ever look.

    11) If you meet a woman in the bus station after midnight who ask you, “Is this Hollywood?”, Tell her you’re a film director and don’t give her your real name.

    12) Understand that as time goes on, the good women who are capable of being in a relationship are removed from the available inventory. If you meet a sweet, sexy, honest, caring, available woman, ask yourself-”What’s wrong with this picture?….”

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  2. Rick says:

    What a terrible idea… using the dismal science to make a happy marriage!

    What qualifies economists to give marital advice? Is there any evidence that economists have happier marriages than other people?

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  3. Katie Cunningham says:


    You can switch the sexes on your tips. They still work (and don’t sound as misogynist.)

    As for number twelve, it’s also worth considering that a lot of good women also go through divorce, hence making them available again later in life.

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  4. Drill-Baby-Drill Drill Team says:

    Is it better to be a polygamist married to 4 wives simultaneously or a serial monogamist who marries and divorces and marries and divorces like some existential game of musical chairs?

    I remember a Nobel Laureate in Economics who had to sacrifice half of his prize money to his former wife because of a clause in his divorce which foresaw such a possibility.

    He was a farsighted world class financial forecaster but he could not see the divorce coming like a jack boot aimed squarely at the solarplexus.

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  5. W.M. says:

    I wouldn’t take economic advice from an economist.

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  6. Dave says:

    An old saw: An economist is somebody who’d marry Megan Fox for her money.

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  7. Natalie Dressed says:

    I found point # 12 poignant–I’m widowed, my first wife was beautiful, but didn’t do well in college, barely was graduated. We were friends after college, and 4 years later she asked me out on a date, and I fell in love. Markets priced her inefficiently because they looked at her GPA and not her wisdom. For me, those were Halcyon days, three years of a wonderful marriage.

    After she was gone, I was disconsolate, and articulated point 12. All the women I admired and respected were married, and it didn’t seem ethical to root for a plane crash.

    We built a playground in honor of my deceased wife, and I met a young woman who didn’t mind getting dirty filling holes with soil, sand, and cement. I ended up marrying her. Anyone who would get dirty to help someone they had only met once, that spoke to me.

    I told all my friends that finding my new wife was like finding a diamond on the sidwewalk; I couldn’t figure why, at the age of 27, no one else wanted her. She turns 40 this year and I am glad markets are not always “efficient”.
    I’d like to think it was because I have some skill at choosing great women, but that would be pure vanity on my part. I got lucky–twice.

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  8. Regina Woolley says:

    I wouldn’t take any advice from an economist. Economists believe the world operates on the basis of all kinds of simplified, untrue assumptions.

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