Not that we want to burst any bubbles among the short, tubby, balding guys out there (gals too), but is it just possible that your good-looking date might be interested in more than dry wit and a winning personality? The Wealth Report's Robert Frank delivers this sobering news, via a survey by Prince & Associates, a Connecticut-based wealth-research firm. The survey, which polled 1,134 people nationwide with incomes ranging from $30,000 to $60,000, asks "How willing are you to marry an average-looking person that you liked, if they had money?" Two-thirds of women and half of the men said they were "very" or "extremely" willing to marry for money. Wwomen in their 30s were the most likely gold-diggers (74 percent), while men in their 20s were the least likely (41 percent).
"I'm a little shocked at the numbers," says Pamela Smock, a sociologist at the University of Michigan who has studied marriage and money. "It's kind of against the notion of love and soul mates and the main motivations to marry in our culture." Still, Ms. Smock has found in her own research that having money does encourage people to tie the knot. "It's more likely that a couple will marry if they have money, and if the man is economically stable," she says. Women aren't the only ones with the gold-digging impulse. In the Prince & Associates study, 61% of men in their 40s said they would marry for money. Ms. Smock says that as men get older, they become more comfortable with women being the bread-winners.
The matrimonial price tag varies by gender and age. Asked how much a potential spouse would need to have to be money-marriage material, women in their 20s said $2.5 million. The going rate fell to $1.1 million for women in their 30s, and rose again to $2.2 million for women in their 40s. Ms. Smock and Russ Alan Prince, Prince & Associate's founder, both attribute the fluctuation to the assumption that thirty-something women feel more pressure to get married than women in their 20s, so they are willing to lower the price. By their 40s, women are more comfortable being independent, so they're willing to hold out for more cash.
While $1 million or $2 million may sound like a lot to people making $30,000, it's hardly enough to transform someone's life or make them "rich" by contemporary billionaire standards. No one in the survey quoted a price of more than $3 million. Of course, when the mercenary marriage proves disappointing, there's always divorce. Among the women in their twenties who said they would marry for money, 71% said they expected to get divorced -- the highest of any demographic.