Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Best Age Difference for Husband and Wife?

By marrying a woman 15 years younger, preindustrial Sami men maximized their surviving offspring
By David Biello


Men marry younger women and women prefer to marry older men, in general. But is it culture, genetics or the environment that drives such a choice—and is there an optimal age difference? New research shows that, at least for the Sami people of preindustrial Finland, men should marry a woman almost 15 years their junior to maximize their chances of having the most offspring that survive.

"We studied how parental age difference at marriage affected [families'] reproductive success among Sami people who married only once in their lifetime[s]," says ecologist Samuli Helle of the University of Turku in Finland. "We found that marrying women 14.6 years younger maximized men's lifetime reproductive success—in other words, the number of offspring surviving to age 18."


Ah, so them Sephardis may have a method to their madness... It's not unusual for Sephardic girls to get married before they're done with highschool - to guys in their 30s.

29 comments:

zach said...

Actually to maximize the possibility of a partner for life, a man should marry an woman 6-7 years older because that is the average life expectancy difference between male and female in most industrialized countries!

Orthoprax said...

But women hit their reproductive limit in their 40s and are most fertile and free of congenital defects in their early 20s. This is about reproductive success, not love.

In any case, since women tend to live longer it doesn't serve a man's goal of a lifetime spouse to marry older anyway.

Woodrow said...

If you look at JDate profiles, most women don't want anywhere near that age gap. Maybe you should inform JDate of these findings!

flatbush gal said...

I think I'll stick with 2-4...

Orthoprax said...

FG,

Yes, well me too. But that preference in itself is an interesting sociological question.

happywithhislot said...

saw in jewish newspaper article on a new shidduch service that pays a couple who get engaged where the man is same age as woman or younger.

alex said...

"We found that marrying women 14.6 years younger maximized men's lifetime reproductive success—..."

The "We" in that sentence is referring to the researchers. That doesn't necessarily mean the Samis reached that figure with the reproductive goal in mind, does it? Or does it even matter?

Orthoprax said...

Alex,

Who knows. Maybe some Samis did realize that marrying older to teenage brides made economic and/or reproductive sense in their society. But it doesn't really matter if they knew it consciously or not. In all likelihood it was mostly done simply as a matter of cultural habit.

jewish philosopher said...

Go as young as you can get. That's my philosophy. She'll have more mileage.

Orthoprax said...

JP,

Ha! And you say it's atheists who think with their dicks.

alex said...

How about a 29 year difference?
http://www.alarmingnews.com/archives/006781.html

alex said...

(Uggh, I just realized that someone, after clicking the above link, is probably going to mention something about Yitzchak and Rivka.)

frumskeptic said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
frumskeptic said...

oy. I got talked into going out with a guy 9 years older than me, by a very persistent family friend. The entire time, I felt so uncomfortable. Lucky for me, he kept meeting his former HS classmates at the cafe we were in. When he mentioned he was "class of '97" I almost fainted, because in '97 I was in fourth grade!

Orthoprax said...

FS,

Wow, I presume you're not Sephardi then, eh?

Large age differences matter less the older people get, but when a guy in his older 20s or early 30s is going for a teenager (or vice versa, I suppose), I just don't know what they have in common. What do they talk about?

Then again, I'm constantly being surprised at the kinds of couples who actually seem to go well together. So my intuition here is really no good.

frumskeptic said...

lol. I'm def not Sephardi. But I wouldn't say thats a fair way to judge, alot of my Sephardi friends wouldn't go for guys that much older than they are either.

about them having nothing in common, my coworker (non-jew) is living with a guy who is 15 years older than her (she has issues). The other day we had a conversation about how happy she is that in college she gets to speak to people HER age. When I asked her why she was dating this guy if the age difference was so noticeable, all she was able to say was "I love him." So, maybe thats just wat its like to frum people... you get attached "fall in love" and then you forget that you have absolutely nothing in common.
I dunno...maybe I'm just to cynical for this wide age gap stuff.

הצעיר שלמה בן רפאל לבית שריקי ס"ט said...

yo.

one second, I get the part of women being more fertile younger (that is, older than 17), but why does the guy have to be so much older.

(Truth is I'm sefaradi, and my (Moroccan) grandfather married a fourteen year old in his mid twenteyes. ...but you gotta admit, some fourteen year olds are hot! (perhaps not that fertile yet though...) (I'm just saying that though- just for the record, I'm not really phisically atraccted to girls under 17 (or intelectually atttracted to girls under 22!)

oh, and uh; I like your blog. I'm a proponent of the ideas you seem to profess (a lot better than all those black-hat 'kvetching' 'schidduch-oriented' blogs...

עבד

הצעיר שלמה בן רפאל לבית שריקי ס"ט said...

oh, and by the way; I just recentely read the difference between 'ortho-doxy' and 'ortho-praxy'. An old religious debte; hard to say where I personally stand yet though (but basically, I do feel we're 'orthoprax' Jews, and Christians basically are the 'orthodox' ones...

Orthoprax said...

Hashbar,

"one second, I get the part of women being more fertile younger (that is, older than 17), but why does the guy have to be so much older."

Presumably because he would be more certain of his place in society, more wealthy, own property, etc. He would have the financial means to support a large family.

"oh, and uh; I like your blog. I'm a proponent of the ideas you seem to profess (a lot better than all those black-hat 'kvetching' 'schidduch-oriented' blogs..."

Thanks, though I suspect I'm actually more to the left than you might guess.

"An old religious debte; hard to say where I personally stand yet though (but basically, I do feel we're 'orthoprax' Jews, and Christians basically are the 'orthodox' ones..."

See, I didn't really mean it in that context, but more as in a contradistinction to Jewish Orthodoxy which I think is wrong in many respects.

הצעיר שלמה בן רפאל לבית שריקי ס"ט said...

"Thanks, though I suspect I'm actually more to the left than you might guess."- I'll have to keep reading, I guess, to find out what you're talking about..

and; when the hell did I become 'hashbar'? What does that even mean? Did you make that up or 'frum skeptic over there? ...i'm not complaining, just curious...

עבד

הצעיר שלמה בן רפאל לבית שריקי ס"ט said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
הצעיר שלמה בן רפאל לבית שריקי ס"ט said...

yo man, phyco links by the way; I just checked out that ancient texts thing- amazing. there's so much there. I just read the 'enumah elish' thing, I was looking for it for a while (ancient Babylonian creation epic, sort of like 'Genesis').

(I still think it's stupid, by the way, that people take the Genesis story word for word. It was written for people from the f---ing ancient world. It's obviously just a 'G-d' replacement of other similar works at that time and/or to enstill a G-dly aspect into everything, including the worlds begining...

...Though I wouldn't rule out deeper things being found in the text, based on the premise of it's being authered by G-d...)

Orthoprax said...

"when the hell did I become 'hashbar'? What does that even mean? Did you make that up or 'frum skeptic over there? ...i'm not complaining, just curious..."

It's an acronym of the first letters of the first four words in your name. Kinda like Rashbam, Ramban, and do on.

"yo man, phyco links by the way"

Thanks, there's some interesting stuff out there.

evanstonjew said...

I don't want to press; I realize there are no easy answers. But the way you set it up it really makes a difference if one gets the contemplation 'right' since that is the telos of the entire life devoted to mitzvoth.If there are no criteria for getting it right, why not just meditate ? Who will ever be able to say the madrega u acheive is nowhere?

Orthoprax said...

Evanston,

I think you meant to comment on the above post, but I can respond here too.

I can't say what is "right" because I genuinely do not know what that would consist of. I believe it is a project that people ought to engage in but what it produces and how it changes peoples' ideas, lives and behavior may differ substantially from one person to another.

What I think it does significantly is raise the mind above the mundane and puts a focus on life that isn't about mere personal interest and materialism. Losing focus on the self and turning to the universal leads, I think, to greater human empathy, perceptions of duty and contributions to improving the world.

Now can meditation get you there? Could be. But Halacha is the "prepared table" for the Jewish method. This is the way Jews do it.

Anonymous said...

My gf is 11 1/2 years older than me, too bad, i win anyways hehe

Viagra Online said...

SO happy you're back I thought this was never going to get back up again, I think that ti is really important to know because the difference between wife and husband are so important to understand!

www.palencia-3d.com said...

This won't actually have success, I think so.

Anonymous said...

I don't have a problem with the whole age difference thing, and I liked what you said about this 'issue.' I'm meeting some resistance because I'm 17 and my bf is 34.