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Love and economics

/ 05:04 AM August 22, 2019

When they said economics is everywhere, they weren’t kidding. It is this omnipresent force (although tangible in several aspects) directing with its invisible hands the workings of our daily lives. It is so inescapable that it affects even the innate and most natural emotion in all of us — love. Yes, economics does influence feelings of attraction between humans.

(I’m going to use the term “love” loosely, because true love can defy even the most complicated laws of economics. But that discussion is for a whole other article.)

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Let us begin with this tidbit: You are more likely to fall in love with a person in proximity to you (Newcomb, 1956). Psychologically, this is because the frequency of interaction is directly proportional to the level of attraction between two people. When you examine the situation from an economic point of view, it all boils down to practicality. Plane tickets, three-hour drives — who has the time and money? People choose people who live within their radius because they get to see them frequently, and they don’t have to spend a lot of money doing so.

Here is another thought: Opposites don’t necessarily attract, and you are more likely to marry someone who came from the same socioeconomic background as you (Greenwood et al.). This is called “assortative mating.” The poor girl-rich guy (or rich girl-poor guy) trope common in Filipino television might be just that — a trope. A “conyo kolehiyala” who resides in a high-rise condominium is highly unlikely to marry a poor boy living in the slums of Metro Manila. They just don’t move in the same circles. Also, what on earth will they ever talk about? Discriminatory? A little. Logical? Definitely.

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There’s more: Looks aren’t everything, but wealth might as well be. A study suggests that when there’s a recession in men (during wartime, for example), women will settle for poorer partners (Pollet, Nettle, 2008). However, when there are enough men around, women will gravitate toward the ones with the “ka-ching,” or at least, the ones of the same economic standing (see paragraph above). While the study was made more than a hundred years ago, it is still very much true and very much relevant. Life, after all, is just a series of survival actions. Admit it or not, we drift toward people who can better us and lift us out of the metaphorical gutter.

It is important to remember that love alone, no matter how strong a force, cannot sustain a household, raise children and provide necessities. This is the real world. Your feelings are very much real, but they, unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), do not run the world.

Economics affects everything. It affects your choice of partner and the future the two of you will have. It keeps couples grounded. This discussion is crucial in an era where the “love will keep us alive” mentality is heavily romanticized in film and television, when, in truth, it will never fare off it. Love with a future is something you work on and work for.

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Roanne Manio, 21, is a graduate of business economics at Bulacan State University, and a hopeless romantic.

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