Erotic Economics

“For richer or for poorer” — beyond marriage vows, does this also fuel. . . PASSION? 

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Valentine’s Day is upon us! LOVE is in the air. You might celebrate by SMOOCHING with someone special. But why do people meld mouths, of all things?

Christopher Watkins at Scotland’s Abertay University has a theory: economics! Watkins argues that, when money’s tight, people rely on deep ROMANTIC investment. Kissing helps humans double-check that it’s REAL love.

To investigate, Watkins used the Gini index, which measures a country’s wealth gap. Watkins picked thirteen high and low Gini countries, spanning six continents. From these, over three thousand people reported how often they kissed their partner. 

Results? In countries with GREATER income inequality, lovers pecked lips MORE frequently. They reported kissing SEVEN PERCENT more than couples in countries with more balanced incomes. 

While this supports Watkins’s theory, he can’t conclude that inequality DIRECTLY kindles romance. More research is needed. 

Just don’t spend V-Day kissing your money goodbye! Who needs pricey gifts when you can just, er, canoodle? 



Watkins, C. D., Leongómez, J. D., Bovet, J., Żelaźniewicz, A., Korbmacher, M., Varella, M. A. C., Fernandez, A. M., Wagstaff, D., & Bolgan, S. (2019). National income inequality predicts cultural variation in mouth to mouth kissing. Scientific Reports, 9(1), 1–9.