Robert Frank's column The Wealth Report at the Journal is all about the rich people's financial life, or anything related to the riches. You will read about how the riches use MySpace-like portals to get connected, how someone can have an A-380 as a private jet, and what the truly rich buy for Christmas gifts.
His recent article on a research about how much people will ask to marry for money provides some fancy figures:
According to a survey by Prince & Associates, a Connecticut-based wealth-research firm, the average "price" that men and women demand to marry for money these days is $1.5 million.
The survey polled 1,134 people nationwide with incomes ranging between $30,000 to $60,000 (squarely in the median range for nationwide incomes). The survey asked: "How willing are you to marry an average-looking person that you liked, if they had money?"
And then there is more:
The matrimonial price tag varies by gender and age. Asked how much a potential spouse would need to have to be money-marriage material, women in their 20s said $2.5 million. The going rate fell to $1.1 million for women in their 30s, and rose again to $2.2 million for women in their 40s. Ms. Smock and Russ Alan Prince, Prince & Associate's founder, both attribute the fluctuation to the assumption that thirty-something women feel more pressure to get married than women in their 20s, so they are willing to lower the price. By their 40s, women are more comfortable being independent, so they're willing to hold out for more cash.
Men have cheaper requirements. In the Prince survey, their asking price overall was $1.2 million, with men in their 20s asking $1 million and men in their 40s asking $1.4 million.
Of course it is in the moral gray area to really marry for money, but it is fair to say that most people making $30,000 to $60,000 a year won't become a millionaire automatically, so it is understandable that for a seven-figure fortune, people is willing to trade something like, say, beauty. After all, based on how the question was being asked, it is not about putting a dollar figure on a marriage that is doomed to fail -- the pre-condition is you "like" the average-looking guy. At best, it is about "how much money do you need to compensate for the average-looking of your lifetime partner" (vs. a handsome guy or a beautiful blonde).
Question for PFBlog readers: if you are asked to assign a value, how much will you marry for?
P.S. Now we all read about how expensive a rich man's divorce can be, but I don't think there are any studies on how much people will divorce for. If not, I do have a local empirical example that I can share soon in another post. Keep tuned.