Sunday, 8 November 2009

Marriage: a Romantic view...

Betsey Stevenson, economist at Wharton, shares her view on love (click here for the full article):

[...] Economists simply can't believe in one soulmate. There are too many people in the world and the odds of finding that one person in five billion are, well, you can do the math.

So if economists don't believe in soulmates, why do we think people get married?

Searching for a spouse is very similar to searching for a job. There is not one perfect job for each of us, but there are clearly better and worse jobs. So we hunt, for a spouse and a job. When do we stop? When the offer in the hand is better than the likely offer in the bush.

At a wedding I see a relationship that is good enough to settle down and start investing in.

If you get a reasonable rate of return, investment in your relationship will make it truly better than any other relationship you could have. And that's why I listen to people's vows: to understand what they want out of their marriage or in economist-speak, what they are contracting over.

How important are fidelity, loyalty, generosity, kindness? As an economist I think that a good marriage, like a good employment relationship, has shared vision, common interests, complementary abilities, and gains from specialization. [...]

Shall we really look at it from this perspective?