Published January 19, 2012
Ladies—if you're looking for a guy to spend more money on you than the average Joe, pick a city where men outnumber women. According to a recent study, when men believe there are fewer women around them, they become more prone to impulsive spending, increase their borrowing and save less cash.
The study from the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management titled "The Financial Consequences of Too Many Men: Sex Ratio Effects on Savings, Borrowing and Spending," found the belief that women are scarce causes men to behave more competitively. The lead study author is Vladas Griskevicius of the Carlson School, and co-authors of the study include Joshua Tybur, of VU University Amsterdam, Joshua M. Ackerman, of M.I.T., Andrew Delton and Theresa Robertson, both of the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Andrew E. White of Arizona State University.
The study tested this theory by having participants read news articles that described their local population as having either more men or women. They then revealed how much money they would save monthly from a paycheck, and how much they would spend on their credit cards. Men who believed women were "scarce" the savings rates decreased by 42%, and these men were also willing to borrow 84% more monthly, the study found.
In another portion of the study, participants saw different photos of men and women, some of which featured more men, others featured more women, and others were neutral. They were asked to decide whether they would receive money tomorrow, or a larger sum of money a month later after viewing the photos. Photos with less women prompted men to take an immediate $20, rather than waiting for $30 next month.
Women aren't unaffected by differences in sex ratios either, the study found. When women read a news article that indicated there were more men than women, they felt men should spend more on dinner dates, Valentine's Day gifts and engagement rings.
The survey also cites examples seen in archival data after calculating the sex ratios of more than 120 U.S. cities. They found that communities with more single men showed greater ownership of credit cards, and higher debt levels.
In Columbus, Ga., there are 1.18 single men for every single woman, the study said. The average consumer debt was $3,479 higher in Columbus than it was in Macon, Ga., where there are 0.78 single men per every woman.