What is a good match? Which couples are ‘meant for each other’? I would assume that most people agree that a good match is one where the partners love each other. Very much.
But how can we get at the ‘love’ concept? With economics, of all sciences?
Lo and behold, one extra daring economist has tried to capture ‘love’ in economic terms. Some of you may have guessed: Gary Becker. Inspired by his writings, here are 5 aspects of love that economists understand.
- Caring about the partner. This is best measured as altruism, a concept that economists are, on average, fairly familiar with. In economic terms, it means, my happiness (“utility”) improves, if my partner’s happiness improves.
- Trust. If you two really care for each other, you don’t have to watch your back that much. Your partner already will.
- Sharing and generosity. If your partner is happy about you being happy, it doesn’t matter so much if he eats the last piece of cake or if you do. He’ll be (nearly) equally happy.
- Enjoying things more if consumed together. If you really care for each other, you enjoy a joint dinner more than if each person eats in her own time. Dinner has altogether a new quality; it becomes hard to accept a separate dinner as a valid meal. The same is true for other items, travel, parties, reading a book, even trying out new fashion.
- Enjoying the same things. Because of 4, it also makes sense if you like the same things. The same books, countries, dinners and dinner times, places…
If you can capture love in economic terms, it also means you can measure it.
If you want to know how well you are matched, here are questions you should ask: 1) Is your partner happy, if you are happy? 2) Can you trust him; does he look out for your advantage as much as his? 3) How does he share whatever is scarce – time, cake, money? 4) How much more do you enjoy dinner when you are together rather than dinner alone?
And, finally 5) How long does it take to agree on the theatre play you are going to watch, or the kind of picture you are going to hang?
The answer to these will be telling…