It is not uncommon to see couples where the two spouses are twenty to thirty years apart in age, that is, one third to one half of a lifetime apart. In such cases, it is much more common for the man, rather than the woman, to be the older. Such people include the current, and some past Presidents of the United States (and their first ladies).

Is there a psychological/neurological basis for this phenomenon? For instance, there appears to be a trait called "hypergamy", whereby women prefer richer, more "established" men, to a degree that the man is much older. The converse is that men prefer women who are younger, more attractive, and by implication, more fecund. All other things being equal, of course. Are men and women, in fact, believed by experts to be "hard-wired" in the foregoing, or comparable, ways?

  • $\begingroup$ No hard-wiring, but a result by the culture and the biology. The cultures again a result of gender roles etc. being a result of biological factors. There's nothing more to it. I think you will find the depths of the idea about the "tabula rasa" interesting. $\endgroup$
    – agiopnl
    Commented May 15, 2020 at 0:03
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    $\begingroup$ I may be wrong, but hypergamy seems to me to be an old tradition in the west no longer traditionally followed, but is still prevalent in the middle-east and some parts of Asia and is a cultural thing. $\endgroup$ Commented May 15, 2020 at 6:45
  • $\begingroup$ What share of couples do you have in mind by "It is not uncommon"? Most couples around me are: same educational level, approx. age, same vital phase (work, study, divorced), same socio-economical level, common language. The only strong bias is height. almost 100% of women prefer men as tall or taller. $\endgroup$ Commented May 15, 2020 at 10:37
  • $\begingroup$ @ChrisRogers: Hypergamy still exists today in the U.S. But you're right, insofar it is no longer an "age" thing, but women's "marrying up" seems to take other forms such as chasing richer or better connected (but similar aged) men. $\endgroup$
    – Tom Au
    Commented May 15, 2020 at 13:09
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    $\begingroup$ @TomAu: yes, there are cases. I wouldn't say this is a common case. And notice that on average, Trump was 14 years older as his wives. $\endgroup$ Commented May 15, 2020 at 19:40


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