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Dating a younger guy in college

In the Darwinian world of high-school dating, freshman girls and senior boys have the highest chances of successfully partnering up. And they have found that for the most part, they're accurate.

Now, however, social scientists have examined them exhaustively and empirically.

—interested in sex, whereas girls, no matter how boy-crazy, tend to focus on relationships.

Young men frequently fib about their sexual experience, whereas young women tend to be more truthful.

Once a student has sex, it becomes less of an issue in future relationships.

," but don't hold its too-cute title against it—looked at how and when high-school students choose mates and their preferences when searching for a partner.

Economists Peter Arcidiacono and Marjorie Mc Elroy of Duke and Andrew Beauchamp of Boston College examined an enormous trove of data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, more commonly known as The poll asked a broad range of questions about health and behavior—and the data set has become the basis of dozens of famed medical, sociological, and economic studies.

(For instance, James Fowler of UC-San Diego recently used data from Add Health be a genetic foundation for an individual's political beliefs.) For their paper, Arcidiacono, Mc Elroy, and Beauchamp focused on the dating and sex lives of high schoolers—a subject much-analyzed by magazine editors and romantic-comedy screenwriters, but less familiar to social scientists.What the researchers looked for is called, in academic-speak, "matching": the likelihood and factors that lead to any individual partnering up.(They looked only at opposite-sex relationships within the same school.) That's uncommon: Most academic studies on marriage and partner-matching use a technique called "," which looks at pre-existing couples and defines the characteristics they do and do not have in common.(Humans tend to partner with mates that look and act like them.In real terms, that means couples with the same socioeconomic, racial, and religious background are common.In high-school terms, that means math nerds date math nerds, though members of the debate team may also qualify.) he or she seeks in a partner as well as what he or she ends up getting.The idea is that men and women—jocks and dorks, freshman and seniors—base their search not only on the characteristics of their chosen partner, but also the expected terms of the relationship.For 30-year-olds, that might mean predicating a relationship on willingness to marry or have kids.For high schoolers, that might mean basing a relationship on, well, the Arcidiacono notes that there's a treasure trove of statistical data on the dating preferences, rather than pairings, of adults, due to dating sites like Relatively little such data exists for teenagers, who mostly work the old-fashioned meet-someone-in-homeroom way.But in examining the Add Health data, he and his colleagues found one classic economic tenet driving the byzantine high-school dating market: Scarcity determines value.

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