Dear Economist: Should I stay single in Italy – or come home?

I’m a 32-year-old American woman; I moved to Italy about five years ago and later applied for a master’s programme at an Italian university. Average earnings for my BA in political science are low, so I wasn’t missing out on much.
My problems are two-fold: first, dating. Italy has the second-oldest population in the world. Seeing a single thirtysomething is like finding a unicorn. Eliminate men who live with their mothers, are chain-smokers, or are shorter than me, and I’m in a convent.
Second, my Italian university has decided to reverse its previous decision to accept my American degree. I am being forced to re-earn an Italian BA, which could take a further year.
I’d hate to turn down another degree, but can I handle another year’s worth of pasta and enforced singledom?
My current plan includes going to San Francisco upon my return, though I do have the choice of a semi-permanent job with Nike in the middle of nowhere. Or I could stay in Italy; but if I spend another year single, according to my mother, I will die alone.
Crying in my cappuccino

Dear Crying,

You appear to be committed to staying in a country whose food, bureaucracy and dating scene do not suit you. Your judgment has been clouded by the sunk-cost fallacy: you hoped to get a master’s degree, great food and an Italian paramour. Things didn’t work out and you have wasted five years. You’re only human if you want to waste another year or two, but you’re making a mistake. Go home.

As for your career, forget cash: the happiness literature suggests that a happy relationship and secure job are far more important. San Francisco is not famed for its excess of single straight men, but the demographics of the middle of nowhere are excellent, with many eligible bachelors. Your new life awaits.

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