When people are looking for a significant other, they often try to find someone whose values, education, earnings, hobbies and even height match their own.
But new research suggests there's one promising measure for finding a committed partner that most daters overlook - credit scores.
A credit score is a number that is supposed to reflect the risk of lending money to someone, based mostly on their past history of borrowing, repaying and defaulting on debt. Banks have long used credit scores to evaluate customers, but these days potential employers, landlords, insurance companies, cellphone companies and many other businesses do, too.
A new working paper from the US Federal Reserve Board that looks at what role credit scores play in committed relationships suggests that daters may want to hop on board as well. The researchers found that credit scores - or whatever personal qualities credit scores might represent - actually played a pretty big role in whether people formed and stayed in committed relationships.
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People with higher credit scores are more likely to form committed relationships and marriages and then stay in them. In addition, how well matched the couple's credit scores are initially is a good predictor of whether they stay together in the long term.
The paper analysed a large proprietary data set of 12 million randomly selected US consumers from the credit reporting agency Equifax over a period of about 15 years. Researchers used an algorithm to find a swathe of committed couples.
They found that people with higher (ie, better) credit scores were more likely to form a committed relationship. The researchers also found that having higher credit scores when they started the relationship meant that couples were less likely to separate over the next few years.