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How did Tyler Cowen land Natasha?

In response to my profile of blogger/foodie/economist/polymath Tyler Cowen -- one of my favorite subjects of my career -- a lot of people have asked me a simple question: How did he meet his wife? Cowen would readily admit that he is not exactly George Clooney. But in Washington, he thinks that's an advantage. In one of our many conversations, he told me this:

I think it's better to date here if you are male. Government attracts a disproportionate share of intelligent women. I've never lived in New York, but there are so many celebrities, billionaires. If you are a guy in New York, there's always another guy that crushes you on the scale. Here, there are all these politicians but they are really out of commission for the most part -- or if they fool around, it's with interns. You don't have to compete with them. The people who are really high status are off the market. As a male in Washington, you can be high in status fairly easily without the true very high status competing. In New York or L.A., there are movie stars and directors. Even if a woman can't be with a movie star, women can still say, 'Gee, this guy or that guy is not a movie star or a director.' There's lobbyists and lawyers here, a lot of them. You can be more interesting than that. This is a great place to live.

It turns out that Cowen met his wife, Natasha, a Russian literature scholar turned SEC lawyer, at a party. Cowen is typically a hit at such gatherings. His co-blogger and colleague at George Mason, Alex Tabarrok, said people who meet Cowen at get-togethers often come away finding him interesting for different reasons.

“If he talks to an economist, that person will say, ‘Tyler had a solid grasp of economics,’” Tabarrok says. “If he talks to someone in the music world, that person will say, ‘Tyler knew a lot about music.’ If he talks to a kid, that kid will say, ‘Tyler knew a lot about Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings.’”

He knows everything. Natasha knew it.

By Michael S. Rosenwald  | May 13, 2010; 1:12 PM ET
Categories:  More on the story, The Blowback, The inside story  
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It's interesting Cowen places such great importance on position and prestige in this setting, but he can never acknowledge it's great importance in economics because that would make his libertarian philosophy and economics far less attractive, efficient, and productive.

For more on this, see this brief article from Cornell economist and New York Times Economic Scene columnist Robert H. Frank:

Posted by: Richard722 | May 13, 2010 6:53 PM | Report abuse

Another potential factor is that Tyler is actually kind of a nice guy. I dont know him but have met him a couple of times Women like good guys, not jackasses.

Posted by: morgan15 | May 14, 2010 5:51 PM | Report abuse

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