KUSA - If you're looking for a cougar or sugar daddy to support you, think again: You might have better luck being with someone your own age.
A "cougar" is not a large cat, but instead a slang term for a woman who seeks relationships with considerably younger men. Typically, the term refers to women over 30 years old who try to be in a relationship with someon more than eight years younger. A "sugar daddy," on the other hand, is a slang term for a man who offers money or gifts to a younger person in return for companionship.
This is according to a study at the University of Colorado-Denver, which found that people married to younger or older mates make less, have lower cognitive abilities and are both less educated and attractive than couples of similar ages.
"Hugh Hefner is an outlier," Hani Mansour, an economics professor at CU-Denver, said. "Our results call into question the conventional wisdom regarding differently-aged couples."
Mansour co-authored the study, which was published in the Review of Economics and Statistics, with Terra McKinish, an economics professor at CU-Boulder.
The deciding factor in whether or not you'll find yourself in a 'cougar den?' Nope, it's not six-pack abs. Instead, it's your education level.
People attending college often have more interactions with interactions with people their own age, the study said. And after graduation, they start careers with upward mobility at the very time when people tend to marry.
By contrast, people who have low-skill jobs with little chance of advancement are more likely to interact with more widely diverse age groups, increasing the chances that they marry someone significantly younger or older.
"It really depends on who your social network is," Mansour said.
The study also found most cougar couples are the opposite of Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher in the looks department.
Researchers found that people married to differently-aged spouses are less attractive than those married to similarly-aged spouses. This was determined by interviewers, who ranked subjects according to a scale of "very unattractive" to "very attractive." The only exception was women who married younger men.
"We really didn't find any evidence of a new cougar phenomenon," Mansour said. "Although their share has slightly increased over time, cougars have been among us since the 1960s."
Despite the prevalence of cougars and sugar daddies in pop culture, the study found that people of similar ages are increasingly marrying each other.
"The benefits from marriage might be changing. When you are close in age you can do things together," Mansour said. "You can have children when both parties want to, retire at the same time and grow old together."