I had lunch yesterday with an economist friend of mine who was lamenting the fact that when a market fails to operate efficiently we sometimes advocate for policy intervention without stopping to see if that policy actually improves the outcome. He was talking about his own work that looks at the adult outcomes of boys who spend time during their teen years in foster care, which is itself an extremely interesting topic. I thought we would look at a different topic for which a similar argument could be made: laws that limit the age at which an individual can consent to having sex, and the protection they provide.
Month: November 2010
The Chinese may not talk about sex, but they certainly do it. In fact, they probably do it just as much as the rest of us. What is obvious though is that the lack of dialogue around sex, and particularly the absence of sex education in the schools, has serious consequences for the nation as younger people begin to adopt a more sexually liberated lifestyle. I say this is obvious because even the Chinese government admits that this is a problem. The National Population and Family Planning Commission of China announced yesterday that the city of Beijing is rolling out the first ever sex education program for Chinese students next year. If the evidence on youth sexuality in that country is correct, the program is long overdue.
Asymmetric information creates a moral hazard problem if one party in a transaction cannot observe the (possibly bad) behaviour of the other party. It was moral hazard that caused the sub-prime mortgage meltdown in the U.S. housing market, as those who owned the risky mortgages could not observe the decisions made by mortgage brokers—who were more than willing to dole out money (that wasn’t their own) to high-risk homeowners.
When searching for a mate online, singles are more likely to initiate contact with other online singles who are more attractive than themselves. When the market clears, so to speak, individuals in couples tend to be very similar to each other in terms of attractiveness. While there are a variety of theories as to why this happens, the HotorNot.com paper we talked about on Monday tests two possible theories and finds that at this “associative mating” outcome is driven by market forces.
I have theory, it is a personal theory not quite backed up by empirical evidence, that one of the reasons so many people are single is that they are poor judges of their position on the dating market. If you read online dating profiles, you often see that people write: “I’m not willing to settle, and neither should you.” This suggests that people have estimated the quality of mate that they should be able to attract and are unwilling to “settle” for anything less.
In 2008, 41,269 people in the U.S. were diagnosed with HIV, an increase of 8% from only three years earlier. Known infections make up only 75% of total infections, leaving 25% of HIV infected people unaware that they have the disease. The transmission of HIV by people who are unaware is estimated to be at least three and half times the rate of the transmission of HIV by people who are aware of their infection status.*
Earlier this week we talked about whether or not a brothel for women would be profitable. In that post, I argued that it is men’s willingness to engage in sex with strangers—and love of variety in sexual partners—that fuels the world sex trade, while women’s preference for fewer sexual partners and sex within a relationship made a sex trade for female clients far from common. Several of my readers pointed out the existence of sex tourism for women, particularly in Europe and the Caribbean, and wondered if those markets provide evidence that women are, in fact, willing to pay for sex.
A former New Zealand Member of Parliament is setting out on a new business venture that she feels will be very popular—a brothel for women. She has even done her “research” to see if demand exists for this service and found that over one-in-four women say they would hire a male sex worker. It is good to do market research, but there is good reason to believe that when it comes to selling sex to women, the numbers won’t add up.
It’s a good day for porn in the red states of America. According to a new study in this month’s Evolution and Human Behavior, researchers expect a significant increase in Google search terms like “xvideo,” “tits,” and “boobs” in states in that voted Republican in yesterday’s midterm elections—and a significant decrease in those that voted Democrat.* This phenomenon is likely because victory increases testosterone levels, creating a biological impulse to go out and spread one’s seed.
Remember The Who, talkin’ ’bout their generation? Maybe to a 20-year-old guy in the 1960s, the idea of wanting to die before getting old sounded pretty cool. But, you would think that, by the time he reached his fifties and sixties, life preservation would be the name of the game. But judging by the rate of condom use and casual sex in this (g-g-g-g-g) generation, they never stopped living on the edge.