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Brains or beauty? Causal evidence on the returns to education and attractiveness in the online dating market

Johan Egebark, Mathias Ekström, Erik Plug and Mirjam van Praag

Journal of Public Economics, 2021, vol. 196, issue C

Abstract: We study partner preferences for education and attractiveness by conducting a field experiment in a large online dating market. Fictitious profiles with manipulated levels of education and photo attractiveness send random invitations for a serious relationship to real online daters. We find that men and women prefer attractive over unattractive profiles, regardless of own attractiveness. We also find that high-educated men prefer low-educated over high-educated profiles as much as high-educated women prefer high-educated over low-educated profiles. With preferences similar for attractiveness but opposite for education, two groups are more likely to stay single: unattractive, low-educated men and unattractive, high-educated women.

Keywords: Partner preferences; Partner matches; Beauty; Education; Field study; Randomized experiment; Online dating (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:196:y:2021:i:c:s0047272721000086

DOI: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2021.104372

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