Sugar daddy u: human capital investment and the university-based supply of ‘romantic arrangements’

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Applied Economics



First Page


Last Page



economics of beauty, higher education, Human capital investment, informal labor markets


© 2018, © 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. To deal with the financial hardships associated with rising college tuition, many female college students in the U.S. are turning to risqué forms of financing human capital investments, such as agreeing to potentially lucrative ‘romantic arrangements’ with older males, referred to as ‘sugar daddies,’ through the largest Internet-based club in the industry. Yet despite this recent trend, there is a relative paucity of published academic research on the economics of such behaviour. Using data from the more than 220 nationally ranked (by U.S. News & World Report’s America’s Best Colleges) colleges and universities in the U.S., presents results from both Poisson and scaled Poisson estimation suggesting that large, high-cost universities that are located in larger cities or where unemployment rates are higher lead the nation in the number of female students choosing such romantic arrangements in order to fund higher education. Moreover, those institutions that are chosen by more physically attractive female students, and those that enrol a higher percentage of female students, are also generating greater numbers of female student entrants into the sugar daddy industry. Each of these findings has implications for the human capital literature and the growing body of academic literature on the economics of beauty.

This document is currently not available here.