Baby Boom or Bust?

Kevin Lewis

March 22, 2020

Lowering Standards to Wed? Spouse Quality, Marriage, and Labor Market Responses to the Gender Wage Gap
Na'ama Shenhav
Review of Economics and Statistics, forthcoming


This paper examines the effect of the female-to-male wage ratio, "relative wage," on women's spouse quality, marriage, and labor supply over three decades. Exploiting task-based demand shifts as a shock to relative pay, I find that a higher relative wage (i) increases the quality of women's mates, as measured by higher spousal education, (ii) reduces marriage without substitution to cohabitation, and (iii) raises women's hours of work. These effects are consistent with a model in which a higher relative wage increases the minimum non-pecuniary benefits ("quality") women require from a spouse and therefore reduce marriage among low-quality husbands.

The Scent of a Good Night's Sleep: Olfactory Cues of a Romantic Partner Improve Sleep Efficiency
Marlise Hofer & Frances Chen
Psychological Science, forthcoming 


Almost nothing is known about whether exposure to the scent of loved ones influences sleep. In the current study, 155 participants spent 2 nights with their partner's scent and 2 nights with a control scent (in random order). Sleep was measured in two ways: sleep efficiency (via actigraphy) and perceived sleep quality (via self-report). Sleep efficiency was higher when participants were exposed to their partner's scent. This increase occurred regardless of participants' beliefs about the origin of the scent. Perceived sleep quality was higher when participants believed that they were smelling their partner's scent. Exposure to a partner's scent led sleep efficiency to increase by more than 2% on average, an improvement similar in magnitude to the effect of melatonin on sleep. The current work speaks to the critical role of olfaction in communication and reveals that social scents can impact sleep.

Testing the hot-crazy matrix: Borderline personality traits in attractive women and wealthy low attractive men are relatively favoured by the opposite sex
Alyson Blanchard, Thomas Dunn & Alex Sumich
Personality and Individual Differences, forthcoming


Men and women reliably differ on the importance of certain criteria when considering romantic relationships. From an evolutionary perspective that explains sex differences in mating effort and parental investment, men should prioritise attractiveness and women, wealth. Personality traits also signal important information about relationship potential with those of the dark triad facilitating short-term relationships. However, how the vulnerable dark triad traits of borderline personality disorder (BPD) and secondary psychopathyfunction in relationships remains relatively unexplored. Even though interpersonally tempestuous, individuals high in these traits might be alluring in that they offer a thrilling relationship for the short-term, so long as they are also physically appealing. Across two studies, we examined sex differences in partner preference judged on attractiveness in relation to BPD and secondary psychopathy across short- and long-term relationship contexts. Men were willing to engage in relationships with attractive women high in BPD traits, while women compensated low attractiveness for wealth in long-term dating, and did not desire secondary psychopathy in any relationship. Results show that women are more astute in mate preference, avoiding troublesome or financially challenged men who are time and economically costly, and men more readily engage in potentially turbulent relationships.

Decomposing the Gender Divorce Gap Among Personal Financial Planners
Meghaan Lurtz et al.
Journal of Family and Economic Issues, March 2020, Pages 19-36


This study examines gender differences in divorce status among personal financial planners. Data for this study were collected in 2018 via; a website that provides continuing education to financial planners. The data set consists of detailed information on the backgrounds and practices of 583 financial planners in the United States. The associations between current divorce status and financial planner characteristics are estimated using a series of binomial logistic regressions. Female financial planners are found to be currently divorced at a rate nearly 270% higher than male financial planners. Blinder-Oaxaca decomposition analysis suggests that 34% of this gender divorce gap can be explained by the differences evaluated within this analysis. Among males, age and a desire for work-life balance are found to be positively associated with current divorce status, while agreeableness, working within an ensemble team structure, and a desire for lifestyle flexibility are found to be negatively associated with current divorce status. Among females, age and a desire for stable pay are found to be positively associated with current divorce status.

The traditional sexual script and humor in courtship
Elaina Ross & Jeffrey Hall
Humor, forthcoming


To account for sex differences in the production, receptivity, and preference for humor in potential mates during courtship, past research has often adopted an evolutionary approach. The present manuscript will attempt to integrate evolutionary explanations with proximal social and cultural influences using the traditional sexual script and ambivalent sexism theory. The results of both Study 1 (N=227) and Study 2 (N=424) suggest that trait masculinity is positively associated with humor production in courtship, while trait femininity is associated with humor receptivity. Study 1 indicated that the traditional flirting style was associated with less humor production by women, and Study 2 indicated that hostile sexism was related to a lower preference for a humor-producing potential partner by men. A sex difference in humor production in potential partners in Study 2 was no longer detectable once trait gender and hostile sexism was accounted for. Taken together, gender roles, over and above biological sex, influence one's own humor use in courtship and preference for humor in potential partners.

Sex Differences in Mate Preferences Across 45 Countries: A Large-Scale Replication
Kathryn Walter et al.
Psychological Science, forthcoming


Considerable research has examined human mate preferences across cultures, finding universal sex differences in preferences for attractiveness and resources as well as sources of systematic cultural variation. Two competing perspectives - an evolutionary psychological perspective and a biosocial role perspective - offer alternative explanations for these findings. However, the original data on which each perspective relies are decades old, and the literature is fraught with conflicting methods, analyses, results, and conclusions. Using a new 45-country sample (N = 14,399), we attempted to replicate classic studies and test both the evolutionary and biosocial role perspectives. Support for universal sex differences in preferences remains robust: Men, more than women, prefer attractive, young mates, and women, more than men, prefer older mates with financial prospects. Cross-culturally, both sexes have mates closer to their own ages as gender equality increases. Beyond age of partner, neither pathogen prevalence nor gender equality robustly predicted sex differences or preferences across countries. 

Socioeconomic inequality undermines relationship quality in romantic relationships
Minha Cho et al.
Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, forthcoming


The present research tests how socioeconomic inequality (within romantic relationships) predicts relationship quality and observable expressions of emotion - examining longitudinal self-report and behavioral data from both partners of romantic couples. In Part 1, we examined the romantic partners' self-reports of relationship quality at baseline and after three and a half months. In keeping with prior research on how power inequality undermines relationship satisfaction, couples defined by greater socioeconomic inequality showed a decline in relationship quality over time. In Part 2, we examined observer ratings of emotional expressions in the romantic partners' conversations in the laboratory. Here, we found greater expression of negative emotion in the conversations of couples defined by greater inequality. Importantly, it was inequality itself - rather than whether one has higher or lower socioeconomic status than the partner - that significantly predicted changes in relationship quality and observable expressions of negative emotion. These findings have implications for how deepening economic inequality may manifest in the weakening of intimate bonds - the quality of which is central to the well-being of individuals and broader society. 

Probing Ovulatory-Cycle Shifts in Women's Preferences for Men's Behaviors
Julia Stern, Tanja Gerlach & Lars Penke
Psychological Science, forthcoming


The existence of ovulatory-cycle shifts in women's mate preferences has been a point of controversy. There is evidence that naturally cycling women in their fertile phase, compared with their luteal phase, evaluate specific behavioral cues in men as more attractive for sexual relationships. However, recent research has cast doubt on these findings. We addressed this debate in a large, preregistered, within-participants study using salivary-hormone measures and luteinizing-hormone tests. One hundred fifty-seven female participants rated the sexual and long-term attractiveness of 70 men in dyadic intersexual interactions in natural videos. Multilevel comparisons across two ovulatory cycles indicated that women's mate preferences for men's behaviors did not shift across the cycle for either competitive or courtship behavior. Within-women hormone levels and relationship status did not affect these results. Hormonal mechanisms and implications for estrus theories are discussed. 

Sex differences in the sedative properties of heterosexual intercourse
Gordon Gallup et al.
Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, forthcoming


Based on a sample of 128 female and 98 male college students, there were significant sex differences in the sedative properties of vaginal intercourse. Consistent with predictions derived from an evolutionary model of sperm retention and human bipedalism, women were more likely than men to report falling asleep after sexual intercourse. Postcopulatory somnolence was also enhanced by orgasm in both women and men. However, with or without orgasm, women were more likely than men to report falling asleep after sex. Consistent with the possibility that seminal fluid may contain sedative-like properties, women who were being inseminated were also more likely to fall asleep after sex. There was no evidence for sex differences in the sedative properties of masturbation.

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