July 10th, 2017 9:44 AM by Tenby Dahman
If you’re hoping to find not merely short-term romance, but a potential spouse, what qualities do you consider most important in that partner?
Physical attraction tops the list for some. Others might insist on a good sense of humor.
You might consider something much more mundane: your partner’s credit score.
It’s a more accurate barometer of the chances for long-term compatibility, says the Federal Reserve.
Three members of the Fed’s consumer financial section examined the credit histories of 12 million consumers, identified their romantic partners, and tracked their unions and breakups over a 15-year period.
Yeah, that’s a little spooky.
But guess what they discovered?
People with higher credit scores were more likely to commit to a relationship, and when they did, it was more likely to last. Also, the study showed that those with similar scores — even if the scores weren’t especially high — tended to stay together longer.
Why would that be true? “Credit scores can be a sign of trust and how you deal with responsibility,” said researcher Jessica Hayes. “That can carry over into romantic relationships — especially committed relationships.”
Data for the study came from Equifax, one of the three leading credit reporting agencies, and included mortgages, home equity lines of credit, auto loans, student loans and credit card debt — but no names. The final sample included about 50,000 couples, with an average age of 37, average age difference of 3.6 years and average credit score of 660 (the range is 300–850).
Because researchers wanted to establish base credit scores before individuals committed to a relationship, each pair had to have lived at separate addresses for two years before moving in together. And once they did share an address, they had to stay together for at least 15 months.
If they moved apart and stayed apart for longer than that, they were considered having broken up.
To avoid the possibility that platonic relationships might skew the results, the researchers repeated their analysis with stricter parameters, but they got the same findings.
Single people with a credit score of 769 or higher were 14 percent more likely to form a relationship in the next year than were other singles, the study found. And those already in relationships whose scores were 769 or higher were 32 percent less likely to separate.
So, next time you meet someone you might consider for the long term, simply ask for his or her credit score.
This article first appeared in Inside Personal Finance, June 2017.