Saturday, June 8, 2013

First I Look at the Purse

The Gallup poll used to have a fair number of questions on issues of everyday life.    In 1950, they asked "If you were a young man and looking for a bride, which would YOU prefer--a young girl who is very pretty or a young girl who is not pretty but has a lot of money?"  29% said the pretty one, 23% said the one with money, and 43% were classed as "don't know."  They recorded what people in that category said in their answers, and I would characterize them as "other" rather than "don't know":  some people said it should be about love, others named various other personal qualities (there was also one wise guy who said "ugly and no money").

Compared to whites, blacks were more likely to prefer the girl with money:

                  Pretty        Money    Other
White    33%    22%   45%
Black    14%    42%   43%

That may be because blacks were poorer than whites, and money seemed more important to poor people.  Unfortunately, the Gallup Poll didn't ask about income, but there were no strong differences by education.  It also asked about occupation, but the coding was complicated, so I didn't take the time to check.

Women were somewhat less likely to say they would choose the pretty one and more likely to choose "other".  But I was a bit surprised at how small the differences were:

                 Pretty    Money    Other
Men     34%   24%   42%
Women   28%   24%   48%

Age made a difference, shifting concern from looks to "other":

                      Pretty     Money       Other
Under 25  45%    22%   32%
Over 65   22%    23%   54%

There were significant differences among the regions.  They didn't have an obvious pattern, but New Englanders stood out for their interest in looks:  51% said they would choose the pretty girl, and only 10% said they would choose the girl with money.  In the Pacific states (ie mostly California), 26% went for looks and 23% went for money.

There also may have been some differences by vote in the 1948 presidential election.  There wasn't much difference among non-voters and supporters of the two major candidates, but of the 22 who said they had voted for one of the minor party candidates (Henry Wallace and Strom Thurmond), only 2 (9%) said the pretty girl and  10 (45%) said the girl with money.  That could be just a fluke, but it is statistically significant and interesting to speculate about.

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