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Hypergamy (colloquially referred to as marrying up or gold digging) is the act or practice of seeking a spouse of equal or higher socioeconomic status, or caste status than oneself.

The term is often used more specifically in reference to a perceived tendency amongst human cultures for females to seek or be encouraged to pursue male suitors that are comparatively older, wealthier or otherwise more privileged than themselves. Hypergamic behaviours can be explained in terms of genetic economic necessity, in which societies with high levels of gender inequality are more likely to have women who "marry-up" for the benefit of their children, and more likely to have men who "marry-down" to ensure that their mates have a higher incentive to remain faithful.

The word "hypogamy" typically refers to instances of the inverse occurring: marrying a person of lower social class or status.


Some psychologists believe that women exhibit mate-selective preferences for spouses who are at least equal to them in terms of attained educational level, job status, social standing, and capital accumulation. In comparison males tend to place higher emphasis on the value of physical attractiveness in a woman alone.

In an anthology about money and relationships by many prominent female writers, the authors expressed that the role money plays in determining how women select long-term male partners is often considered a taboo subject.

[edit] VarianceOne study found no statistical difference in the number of women or men "marrying-up" in a sample of 1109 first-time married couples in the United States.


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