NBA legend Dr. J, and his much younger wife.

NBA legend Dr. J, and his much younger wife.

Student loan debt is toppling $1 billion in the United States. The job market is still struggling to recover while household debt averages continues to increase. Long-term wealth seems impossible for some of us, but there are a few women that have found an out to their dismal financial realities: SugarDaddies.com.

Sugar Daddies is a dating site – similar to eHarmony or Match – designed to pair young, attractive women with well-to-do, older men with penchants for doling out cash on their romantic partners. A friend of a friend introduced me to Sugar Daddies after she met her current beau on the site. She’s in her mid-20’s and he’s almost 50, but her walloping monthly allowance persuaded her to look past his graying temples and warped motivations.

This friend of a friend is a devoted sugar-baby. She schedules her life around his, catering to his whims and pretending to be on his janitorial staff when his dignitary-esque wife calls from China. Her student loans are reimbursed, her hair is forever done and her wardrobe is insane. Her life is luxurious. I declined her invitation to register for the site, but it’s understandable why she would pine for this lifestyle as she sees the globe-trotting lives of the real housewives, basketball wives and medicine wives.

Too bad this friend of a friend is a rare exception in the land of sugardaddies and their sugarbabies. A new study from the University of Colorado Denver found that May-December romances don’t guarantee an automatic upgrade into wealth. The report, published in the Review of Economics and Statistics, found marriages with one significantly-older spouse tend to have lower collective earnings. Researchers also discovered one of the spouses is typically less-educated and less-attractive and also has lower cognitive abilities than a spouse in a relationship with someone closer to her age.

“Hugh Hefner is an outlier,” said Hani Mansour, Ph.D., an assistant professor of economics at CU Denver. “Our results call into question the conventional wisdom regarding differently-aged couples.”

Mansour and co-author Terra McKinnish, Ph.D., associate professor of economics at the University of Colorado Boulder, examined U.S. Census Bureau data from 1960 through 2000 to gauge the trends of marriages with significant age-gaps. The economists used the 1979 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth to estimate cognitive abilities and the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health to determine physically attractiveness.

Their findings don’t set age perimeters for the marriages examined, but both researchers determined cougars and sugardaddies aren’t a new phenomenon.

“We really didn’t find any evidence of a new cougar phenomenon,” Mansour said. “Although their share has slightly increased over time, cougars have been among us since the 1960s.”

Despite these findings, some women are still awaiting their rich prince, popularized in romantic comedies like “Pretty Woman.” Nerve Magazine interviewed an aspiring sugar-baby. She hopes to find a rich, older man to elevate her tax bracket.

“I am hoping to find someone who is mature and experienced and successful and powerful, because that’s what women are looking for,” she said. “I think that wealth is a good indication of success and power.”

Chime in Clutchettes. Would you date a sugar daddy?

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