MEN have long suspected that the larger their wallet, the greater their chance of attracting the opposite sex.
Now economists at Bradford University have proved it.
By looking at information from dating agencies, they found women were willing to refine their ideas of an ideal husband significantly in exchange for economic benefits.
Samuel Cameron, a lecturer in the department of social and economic studies, used age as a way of measuring the "price" of a potential mate.
He found eastern European women looking for partners in western capitalist countries appeared ready to "trade down" by considering older men, in return for the access to a higher-paying labour market and consumption opportunities which such a relationship would offer.
He described it as an example of human capital. "People look for things which give them most satisfaction at least cost," he said. "So far, there has been no study by economists of the dating process even though an economic approach can often be more penetrating than other studies of human behaviour."
He looked at a sample of 28 female professionals on the database of the Introlink agency, which matches eastern European women with English men.
The average age in the sample was 32.8 and the average age of partner sought was 40.02, giving an average age difference of 7.22 years.
The average maximum acceptable age difference was 15.8 years.
Most women marry men just two years older than themselves but when Dr Cameron looked at a sample of women's ads from the Sunday Times personal column to discover whether a willingness to consider older partners was characteristic of dating agency applicants in general, he found the average age difference was 3.8 years.