In this edition of Fun With Statistics we’ll take on the perennial question: why are there so few eligible bachelors? Of course this was never a problem for me, but for some reason the angst of women to locate eligible bachelors also didn’t seem to create any positive fortune. I guess I simply wasn’t eligible… enough.
Tyler Cowen over at Marginal Revolution discusses the Eligible Bachelor Paradox.
The pool of appealing men shrinks as many are
married off and taken out of the game, leaving a disproportionate
number of men who are notably imperfect (perhaps they are short,
socially awkward, underemployed). And at the same time, you get a pool
of women weighted toward the attractive, desirable "strong bidders."
Game theory helps explain the conundrum.
Game theory predicts, and empirical studies of auctions bear out, that
auctions will often be won by "weak" bidders, who know that they can be
outbid and so bid more aggressively, while the "strong" bidders will
hold out for a really great deal. You can find a technical discussion
of this here.
And how does this work?
Where have all the most appealing men gone? Married young, most of
them—and sometimes to women whose most salient characteristic was not
their beauty, or passion, or intellect, but their decisiveness.
Decisiveness? Tyler questions the validity of the argument.
I view the real world auction as being held — at least if you wish —
continuously rather than at discrete times. So the "strong bidding
women" can always cave and settle for a "lesser man" after an optimal
amount of waiting, yet many don’t. The distinction between
period-by-period happiness and overall lifetime happiness also shapes
the market. As smart single women mature, their lives get better and
becomes psychologically harder, even if it would make some of the
"settlers" happy in the longer run. So settling doesn’t happen;
decisiveness become harder to conjure up at the same time that its
long-run value is increasing, or in other words behavioral economics is
very much at work here.
Of course this post was written, directly and indirectly, by a couple of guys. Last time I tried to figure out the the vagarities of the female brain I got into some serious trouble.