An Animated Guide to the Economics of Sex

You may have detected a theme in our three most recent podcasts: “Reasons to Not Be Ugly,” “What You Don’t Know About Online Dating,” and “Why Marry? (Part 1).” If any of this interests you in the least, you should also check out an animated video on the economics of sex from The Austin Institute for the Study of Family and Culture:

(HT: The Big Picture)

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  1. zackgj says:

    Also this explanation has to consider the higher value both genders are giving to ‘bachelorness’. Without gender, as people and as individuals, since marriage is not occurrring and also, since the world is becoming more interconnected, then we are becoming more and more aware of who we are as individuals, what do we want to do and achieve (alone or accompanied), as well as we are becoming more aware of the world we are living in and how, when and where we would like to discover it. Being the result of failed marriages we have become aware of what freedom is and what we can do with it. Being single has increased it’s value because we can live now without having to ask for permission or negotiate with someone else on what we want to be, do or have.

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  2. Sexonomist says:

    Looks like a Jezebel writer takes offense to this way of thinking.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 14 Thumb down 10
  3. Steven says:

    The bit that was left out is that at the same time as all of these things were going on, women also have greater career opportunities etc. This means women are more independent and so are not so demanding in the marriage market. They will even seek commitment outside the marriage market because there are fewer risks of purchasing a lemon. Women are more independent. Extending the analysis including this poing means that men don’t have so much choice in the marriage market and to marry still requires a high price. So female equality movements have lowered the market price of sex, but the market price of marriage might have gone up! This also leads to an increasing age of marriage, and fewer marriages. I would suggest that this is largely the reason, rather than saying that additional market power has gone to men.

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    • Enter your name... says:

      I think you might have missed a “not” or some other critical word in this post. Usually, when people are “not so demanding”, then the “market price” goes DOWN, not up.

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  4. BDB says:

    The 1950s called, they want their archetype back. Only modest acknowledgement of age demography (“seasonality” in the context of a lifespan). Microtrends had a great chapter outlining the things men statistically do to take themselves out (of the market) e.g. die young from risky behaviors, work themselves to death, don’t go to the doctor or otherwise take good care of themselves, etc. at a faster rate than women, such that older cohorts are increasingly skewed towards there being a surplus of women, whether the market be for casual, or committed sex. What about women closing the gap in earnings and financial independence (may still want a man, but no longer need one)? What about declining birthrates, and not having children becoming a more common choice for both genders? What about the dynamics of same sex couples, or singles? Also, men do not have a complete monopoly on horndogery.

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  5. Liz says:

    The Austin Institute is not a real research institution — it’s an outlet for Mark Regnerus’s New Family Structures Study “research”. If you followed the DOMA or Prop 8 cases in the Supreme Court, you very likely heard about this. Regnerus’s work has also come under fire in other forums:

    Even if you don’t believe me, notice how none of the data supporting the study are available on the Austin Institute’s website. The website also fails to list the names of the researchers who organized or conducted the study.

    So, at best, this is poorly conducted academic research; at worst, it’s bigoted political propaganda masquerading as academic research. Either way, I would ask that Freakonomics please remove it from their blog, as posting it confers some legitimacy upon it.

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    • Joseph N. says:

      Actually, I saw that they had posted a resource guide with the video that includes links to all of the research that went into the film. Looks like a lot of heavy scholarship in there.

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    • J says:

      The link you posted leads to an article that starts with:

      “In an opinion released today, a Florida state court judge ruled that the University of Central Florida must turn over records related to the publication of a debunked 2012 study conducted by Mark Regnerus that demonizes gay and lesbian parents.”

      I don’t connect the content of the video with the above. Maybe you can enlighten me.

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      • Joseph N. says:


        I understand why that news might cause concern. However, I looked into this found the next chapter to the story you mentioned. See below for the link and the full text of the Article.

        “The University of Texas at Austin has determined that no formal investigation is warranted into the allegations of scientific misconduct lodged against associate professor Mark Regnerus regarding his July article in the journal Social Science Research.”

        University of Texas at Austin Completes Inquiry into Allegations of Scientific Misconduct

        Aug. 29, 2012

        AUSTIN, Texas — The University of Texas at Austin has determined that no formal investigation is warranted into the allegations of scientific misconduct lodged against associate professor Mark Regnerus regarding his July article in the journal Social Science Research.

        As required by its Revised Handbook of Operating Procedures, the university conducted an inquiry to determine whether the accusations made by writer Scott Rose had merit and warranted a formal investigation. After consulting with a four-member advisory panel composed of senior university faculty members, the Office of the Vice President for Research concluded in a report on Aug. 24 that there is insufficient evidence to warrant an investigation.

        Provost and Executive Vice President Steven Leslie accepted the report on Tuesday and deemed the matter closed from an institutional perspective.

        As part of the inquiry, the university hired Dr. Alan Price to ensure that the inquiry was conducted appropriately and fairly. Price, a private consultant, is former associate director of the Office of Research Integrity in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Price found that the inquiry was handled in a manner consistent with university policy and indicated the process was “also consistent with federal regulatory requirements of inquiries into research misconduct.”

        The allegations raised by Rose fall under the university’s definition of scientific misconduct, which states, in part, that “ordinary errors, good faith differences in interpretations or judgments of data, scholarly or political disagreements, good faith personal or professional opinions, or private moral or ethical behavior or views are not misconduct.”

        As with much university research, Regnerus’ New Family Structures Study touches on a controversial and highly personal issue that is currently being debated by society at large. The university expects the scholarly community will continue to evaluate and report on the findings of the Regnerus article and supports such discussion.

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  6. wallywood says:

    Come on real economists, don’t post the video without your +/- critique.

    At the least explain that the shortage of husband-material men is not because they died in wars, or but because so many young men have low-potential to even help support a family.

    Women will date different guys than they would marry, and the supply of marriage quality men has dropped from every high school graduate, to only half the college graduates, who can afford a decent car decent housing & decent health care. Imagine how much worse the husband-potential is among guys who have been to jail, are disabled, or are long-term unemployed.

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    • Liz says:

      I hadn’t seen that Resource Guide, which is a list of works cited and then a list of additional resources. Two of the six sources cited are Mark Regnerus. Also, someone still must take credit for the hypothesis advanced in the video. All scholarship cites other scholarship, but it also has authors.

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  7. thiswasalittlecheesy says:

    yeah i find some of the assumptions made about women’s motivation for sex or lack of motivation for casual sex to be kinda “ify”.

    I mean all things being equal, a man and women go home together, he is practically guarantied to get off, while the women doesn’t have the same guarantee at best. the real question here is what kind of market forces came make men as a while in to more generous and skilled lovers?

    but for real this really discounts,the drugs that have prolong female fertility, and women carrers. plus people just soooo long!!! you get married at 20 that 70 years together!!! 70!

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  8. Beren says:

    Clownage, nonsense, etc. The premise is based on repression. Women enjoy sex as much as men, and simply don’t feel the social stigma that they used to. Ta-da, that was easy.

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