Brains or Beauty? Causal Evidence on the Returns to Education and Attractiveness in the Online Dating Market

Johan Egebark, Mathias Ekström, Erik Plug, Mirjam Van Praag

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We study partner preferences for education and attractiveness by conducting a field experiment in a large online dating market. Fictitious profiles with manipulated levels of education and photo attractiveness send random invitations for a serious relationship to real online daters. We find that men and women prefer attractive over unattractive profiles, regardless of own attractiveness. We also find that high-educated men prefer low-educated over high-educated profiles as much as high-educated women prefer high-educated over low-educated profiles. With preferences similar for attractiveness but opposite for education, two groups are more likely to stay single: unattractive, low-educated men and unattractive, high-educated women.
TidsskriftJournal of Public Economics
Antal sider16
StatusUdgivet - apr. 2021


  • Partner preferences
  • Partner matches
  • Beauty
  • Education
  • Field study
  • Randomized experiment
  • Online dating