Marina Adshade

Economist, Writer, and Speaker | Women, sex, love, and work

Why You Should Learn Less In Order To Have More Sex

No one was more surprised than I when my German publisher announced that the title of that version of my book would be Warum man weniger lernen sollte, um mehr Sex zu haben, which, translated into English, is the title of this post. Apparently, if you are German this title is amusing – as evidenced by the two little books doing it “doggy style” on the cover – but I have to admit that it is not a topic that I have ever explored, until today.

According to research published in Kykos, coincidently using German data, the better educated you are the less satisfied you are with your sex life.

Before you get too bummed that your sex life might have been better had you spent less time in school, I should point out that while there is a statistically significant negative relationship between sexual satisfaction and education, that relationship is absolutely minute. By comparison, age is a much more important determinant of sexual satisfaction; being one year older increases a person’s sexual satisfaction by just as much as it is decreased by having eight more years of education.

The authors of this study argue that education has two, offsetting, effects on sexual satisfaction. The first effect is that education increases a person’s ability to clearly communicate their sexual preferences to their partner, which leads to a more satisfactory sex life. The second effect is a clearly economic effect; those of us with more education simply choose not invest in having a satisfactory sex life because the opportunity cost of our time is so high.

Here is the best way to think about is this. Imagine we can allocate our time over three different activities: working for wages, engaging in leisure activities or having mind-blowing sex.

The more educated you are the higher the return to the first two activities; educated workers earn higher wages and, as a result of having a higher income, the leisure activities they engage in are of higher quality. Because of the higher return to these two activities, the more educated you are the more time you spend on work and leisure and the less time you spend on having mind blowing sex.

And so when, one day, you are asked to rate you level of sexual satisfaction on a scale of zero to ten, if you are well educated you chose a rating that is somewhat lower than a person who is less educated and has more free time for high quality sex.

I have to say that I am little skeptical about this opportunity cost theory, which is unproven in this paper.  If I had to guess why the authors’ found that sexual satisfaction is slightly lower for the better educated I would start with a theory that better educated people are more likely to be in a relationship in which both partners are working outside the home. Two working partners means that more “leisure” time has to be spend on home production and that it is harder to co-ordinate schedules for mind-blowing sex.  The difference being is that in this scenario no one is choosing to have a less satisfying sex life simply because their time is better spent in other activities.

I wonder if there is a relationship between time spent reading blogs and sexual satisfaction.That must be positive, right?


Rainer, Helmut and Ian Smith (2012). “Education, Communication and Wellbeing: An Application to Sexual Satisfaction” Kyklos, 65(4), pp 581–598.

This post originally appeared on my blog at Psychology Today.


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1 Comment

  1. kit

    Re whether or not a higher degree of formal education increases your ability to express your sexual desires: in my experience guys like Tony Soprano have no trouble whatsoever expressing their sexual preferences, and I’ve known plenty of uneducated guys like him. Same goes for women I’ve spoken to about this who never attended college. In fact, these folks are more likely to be less hungup about sex and more able to verbalize what they like.

    Anecdotal, perhaps, but we’re talking many decades of my own experience and talking with people … just sayin..

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