According to a new study, men are more likely to overspend and go into debt when available women are in short supply. Sex ratio, the number of available men to available women, directly influences the quality of family life and mating patterns in adults. “There are reasons to believe, however, that sex ratio has an even broader impact, affecting many other areas of human life,” said Vladas Griskevicius of the Department of Marketing at the University of Minnesota and lead author of the recent study examining how sex ratio impacts economics. “Sex ratio is likely to influence consumer behavior by affecting the intensity of same-sex competition for mates.”
In the study, Griskevicius analyzed longitudinal data from 134 cities and also conducted new experiments to evaluate the effect of sex ratio on financial decisions. “Recent research has shown that monetary decisions and consumer spending are related to mating effort,” said Griskevicius. “Increased mating effort is associated with increased male desire for immediate financial rewards and increased male spending on conspicuous consumption products.” Therefore, based on this previous data, Griskevicius theorized that a male biased sex-ratio would predict less prudent spending and saving behaviors.
The researcher discovered that in all of the cities, an overpopulation of men was directly related to higher credit card debt. “As men become more abundant in populations, American consumers’ desire access to immediate rewards,” said Griskevicius. The study also revealed that men saved less money and preferred smaller instant financial gains as opposed to waiting for more lucrative financial payouts in the future. “The current studies suggest that sex ratio might have far-reaching consequences for many economic decisions and, potentially, whole economies,” said Griskevicius. “Indeed, it is notable that many contemporary economic and social problems have been caused by excessive behavior that has prioritized short-term rewards over long-term stability (e.g., investing in subprime mortgages, drilling for oil in delicate environments, skyrocketing debt).” Griskevicius added, “As the imbalance in sex ratios continues to remain in parts of the world or parts of a country, a better understanding of this powerful cue will become increasingly important.”
Griskevicius, Vladas, Joshua M. Tybur, Joshua M. Ackerman, Andrew W. Delton, Theresa E. Robertson, and Andrew E. White. “The Financial Consequences of Too Many Men: Sex Ratio Effects on Saving, Borrowing, and Spending.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 102.1 (2012): 69-80. Print.
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