Ever wondered why men like to marry women who are years younger them? Well, you can now give your mind a rest, for a study has found that men prefer young women due to their high fertility.
The study, led by Dr Samuli Helle, University of Turku, has found that young women prefer older men because of their wealth and high social status, which makes them good providers for the offspring.
The finding was made with the help of a study of the nomadic Sami, the 'reindeer people' of Finland.
Finnish parish records from the 17th to 19th century on three Sami populations. For their livelihood, they depended on reindeer herding, fishing and hunting, make it possible for researchers to unravel the effects of medical progress on the number and life span of Sami men who married only once.
From the analysis, the scientists found that the men maximized their 'evolutionary fitness', i.e. ability to pass on their genes to future generations, by marrying women who were 14.6 years younger, and vice versa.
"Those men had the highest number of offspring surviving to adulthood," Telegraph quoted Helle, as saying.
"Young Sami women were the most fertile and had the highest reproductive value, whereas older Sami men had acquired enough skills needed for successful hunting, fishing and reindeer herding and, most importantly, wealth to be good providers for the progeny and thus desirable mates," the researchers said.
However, it was found that most couples failed to marry with the huge age difference, usually settled for a small difference. This suggested that there were social factors at work too, so that Sami society frowned as much on a big age difference as we do today.
The study is published in the journal Biology Letters.