Women Want Heavy Men
Men typically avoid tall women, while women have a preference for tall men. Men have a strong distaste for women with a large BMI [Body Mass Index], while women tend to prefer heavier men.
Huh? That last phrase got my attention. This is from a model in the latest AER predicting who responses at an online dating sight. It controls for: age, height, education, income and their differences in the couple, and also divorce, kids, looks, race, and religion. And its not just that women dislike light men, the benefit of weight continued all the way up the scale; they found no significant effect of BMI squared, and only weak effects of its difference. No wonder men are much less eager to diet!
Interestingly, folks with kids are far more eager for a match, and income preferences were quite linear – no diminishing returns! More:
This paper is based on as sample of 3,004 men and 2,783 women located in Boston and San Diego. The sample was chosen from 22,000 users of an online dating service. … We observe all user activities over a period of three and a half months in 2003. … The estimation is based on a sub-sample of users who state they are single, divorced, or describe themselves as “hopeful.” Furthermore, we eliminate users who indicate that they joined the site to start a “casual” relationship and only keep users who want to “start a long-term relationship,” are “just looking/curious,” “like to make new friends,” and users who state that “a friend put me up on this.”
As expected, we ﬁnd that the users of the dating service prefer a partner whose age is similar to their own. Women who are single try to avoid divorced men, while divorced women have a preference for a partner who is also divorced. Similarly, single men avoid divorced women, but divorced men have no particular preference to date a divorced woman. Both men and women who have children prefer a partner who also has children. Members with children, however, are much less desirable to both men and women who themselves do not have children. Also, women seeking a long term relationship prefer a partner who indicates that he is also seeking a long term relationship, but no such preference is apparent for men. Looks and physique are important determinants of preferences for both men and women. The utility weights on the looks rating variable differ only slightly across men and women. Also men and women have a stronger preference for mates who describe their looks as “above average” than for average looking members, and they have an even stronger preference for members with self described “very good looks.” Regarding height, we ﬁnd that men typically avoid tall women, while women have a preference for tall men. Men have a strong distaste for women with a large BMI, while women tend to prefer heavier men. The estimates of income preferences show that women place about twice as much weight on income than men. There is little evidence for preference heterogeneity here—the absolute value of the distance coefficients is small, and hence own income matters only slightly in the evaluation of a partner’s earnings. Regarding education, we ﬁnd that both men and women want to meet a partner with a similar education level. While women have an overall strong preference for an educated partner, but also have a relatively small tendency to avoid men who are more educated than themselves, men generally shy away from educated women. The estimated same-race preferences show that both men and women have a preference for a partner of their own ethnicity. Finally, we ﬁnd that both men and women have a preference for a partner of the same religion.