‘I’ve matched with this girl on Tinder, should I buy her a pony?’ On the economics of romantic gestures.

‘The very essence of romance is uncertainty.’ Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Ernest

It is a common misconception that economists don’t have feelings. We do, just like normal people. But we do tend to struggle a bit when it comes to expressing those feelings, due to our natural pragmatism that has been enhanced by years of training. If you tell someone you really like that they are second best, an economist will understand this is a massive compliment: this person is the best you could ever hope to find in a real, imperfect world. However, someone less trained in distinguishing between feasible and non-feasible solutions may find this rather odd and offensive. Why wouldn’t you just tell them they are first best, or simply perfect?

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