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As good times fade, 'good guys' are a good catch
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In the go-go pre-2009 days, gold diggers in China were busy digging golden boys who raked in bundles of cash.

Not anymore. The men, who tend to work in business and finance, have been buffeted by the winds of the massive economic downturn sweeping across the globe. Some have lost jobs, others perks, and almost all have had their sense of security or superiority severely dented.

The latest trend shows that the "golden guy" is out and the "moderate guy" is in. Paraphrasing "low-income housing", this category of the male species is humorously called "economically fit", which is a euphemism for low income, or rather, lower income.

According to media reports, a white-collar woman used to aim for the half-million-yuan (annual income) guy. Personal ads emphasized plush homes and pretty cars.

In contrast, the "economically fit" guy, or, shall we say, the low-maintenance model, takes home only 3,000-10,000 yuan ($440-1,460) a month. They typically have jobs in education, manufacturing, IT and other "boring" industries.

They tend to have conservative hair-styles, mild temperament, no bad habits such as smoking or drinking, and little control of the family's finances - they hand over their salary to their wives.

However, there is a bottom line: They are able to shell out the down payment for an apartment and keep servicing the mortgage.

In the gilded age, women trumpeted their successful (read: High-income) spouses. Now, their lower-shooting sisters are saying: If your hubby is more home-bound than mine, he does not earn as much as mine; if yours earns more than mine, he'll not be home as much as mine.

In a survey by 55BBS - a discount shopping website - 60 percent of women respondents said they wanted to marry "economically and behaviorally modest" men. To bring the ebb-and-flow full circle, most men claim they are hard working.

A sales manager at a multinational corporation surnamed Zhao who earns 20,000 yuan a month justified her decision to marry someone who makes less than half her salary: "The modest guy and the golden guy are like tap water and soft drink. Tap water may not be as tasty as a cola, but it quenches thirst and does not leave a saccharine aftertaste."

Hu Shensheng, a sociologist, explains that women look for economic support in a potential husband. But when forced to pick between money and stability, many go for the latter. The financial crisis only serves to bring out their dormant wisdom.

(China Daily February 26, 2009)

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