Brains or Beauty? Causal Evidence on the Returns to Education and Attractiveness in the Online Dating Market

Published in: Journal of Public Economics 196 (2021). 104372. (with Johan Egebark and Mathias Ekström and Mirjam van Praag)

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.

I want to read this! (PDF)