Chivalry & fertility

Not too long ago, it was considered de rigueur when a man was courting a woman that he would offer to pay for her. Nowadays, there is considerable diversity of opinion about this question. The egalitarian position is that because both men and women work, they should both bear the costs equally. Chivalry need not be dead, some argue—but it should brought up to date for the modern world, with partners taking turns treating each other.

However, even modern women in well-paid professions often expect the man to pick up the tab. This expectation does not usually manifest itself as an express principle. More often, it is an attitude made clear indirectly. Women are more generous with their affections to men who are generous with their treasure; men who pay are rewarded in kind.

Are the men and women who maintain this state of affairs simply old-fashioned? Not necessarily. It occurred to me that there’s an economic justification for male chivalry:

Women have fewer years of fertility, so their time spent in courtship is more valuable. By offering to pay, the man is honoring the woman by placing a high value on her time—a tacit acknowledgement of the scarcity of this resource.

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