10/13/2011 01:52 pm ET | Updated Dec 13, 2011

Money, Education and Love

A group of researchers at Columbia University have discovered that money and education both make men and women more attractive in the dating pool, even if they aren't in great shape. We could all have guessed that money is a great leveler for men, but would you have thought that a great education would level the playing field for women too?

Pierre-André Chiappori, an economist, says that their data, drawn from 667 white American couples, revealed that everyone wants a thin, wealthy spouse. (The often touted good sense of humor and kind soul play a much smaller role in the selection process as well.) But the study also shows that fatter men and women don't have to jump out of the pool or settle for less if they've got other things going for them.

It's all in the numbers, according to the researchers. Comparing the subjects' body mass indexes, BMIs and incomes, they found that for every extra ten percent increase in BMI, a man's annual salary must increase by two percent to compete in the same dating pool as his slim counterpart.

We women have heard over and over again that for men, it's all about looks, but Chiappori says hold on a minute. Their research shows that a less than perfect woman can make up for her shortcomings with more education. There is a correlation between a woman's BMI and her level of education. The more educated you are, the more weight you can carry and still remain very attractive to the opposite sex.

The researchers say this is good news. To them, it indicates that physical attractiveness is not that big a deal and that it's easy to compensate for physical shortcomings. If it's true, that's great. I say that 667 white couples is a pretty small sample to be making such bold claims.

These findings are not very romantic and they don't say anything about finding your soul mate. It makes you wonder how successful and happy these couples are. How many of these relationships lead to marriage?

If this is the way we've been doing it all along, it hasn't proven to be all that successful. The current divorce rate is still hovering around 50-percent. I don't think numbers like these are the answer.