Japan’s under-40s appear to be losing interest in conventional relationships. Millions aren’t even dating, and increasing numbers can’t be bothered with sex. For their government, “celibacy syndrome” is part of a looming national catastrophe. Japan already has one of the world’s lowest birth rates. Its population of 126 million, which has been shrinking for the past decade, is projected to plunge a further one-third by 2060.
The number of single people has reached a record high. A survey in 2011 found that 61% of unmarried men and 49% of women aged 18-34 were not in any kind of romantic relationship, a rise of almost 10% from five years earlier. Another study found that a third of people under 30 had never dated at all. (There are no figures for same-sex relationships.) Although there has long been a pragmatic separation of love and sex in Japan – a country mostly free of religious morals – sex fares no better. A survey earlier this year by the Japan Family Planning Association (JFPA) found that 45% of women aged 16-24 “were not interested in or despised sexual contact.” More than a quarter of men felt the same way.
The article contains a number of speculations as to cause, well worth reading. At least the Malthusians will be happy.
It was not until 1943, amid world war, that penicillin was found to be an effective treatment for syphilis. This study investigated the hypothesis that a decrease in the cost of syphilis due to penicillin spurred an increase in risky non-traditional sex. Using nationally comprehensive vital statistics, this study found evidence that the era of modern sexuality originated in the mid to late 1950s. Measures of risky non-traditional sexual behavior began to rise during this period. These trends appeared to coincide with the collapse of the syphilis epidemic. Syphilis incidence reached an all-time low in 1957 and syphilis deaths fell rapidly during the 1940s and early 1950s. Regression analysis demonstrated that most measures of sexual behavior significantly increased immediately following the collapse of syphilis and most measures were significantly associated with the syphilis death rate. Together, the findings supported the notion that the discovery of penicillin decreased the cost of syphilis and thereby played an important role in shaping modern sexuality.
(HT: Marginal Revolution)
The attached picture is a display at the local CVS in Ann Arbor, Mich. My thought was that this shelf display is a great example of complements: Enjoy a chocolate bar together, and who knows what nice things might follow? My son thought that it depicted substitutes — no luck in love, so drown your sorrows by eating chocolate. I don’t know who is correct, but the example illustrates well the fact the complementarity/substitutability can depend on the specific situation being examined.
The Los Angeles City Council may require condoms in porn movies produced in the city limits. How will this affect the market? Whether companies stay in L.A. or leave, costs will rise (condom costs if they stay, the costs of relocation, loss of agglomeration economies, if they move outside the city limits). If costs do rise, will that matter to producers? I imagine product demand is fairly inelastic, and they can easily pass the cost increase onto consumers. But even if costs were unaffected, consumer demand might shift far leftward if producers remained in L.A., since customers may not wish to view protected sex. Industry members lobbied strongly against the bill — perhaps because they feared the direct drop in demand rather than the cost increase.
The Daily Beast reports on an interesting phenomenon: sperm donors who donate for free. One couple, stymied by the $2,000-and-up cost of acquiring sperm the usual way (sperm bank), started exploring alternative options online… Read More »
A reader named Mark Curry, who describes himself as a “cement truck driver trapped in the body of someone who does accounting-related work,” wrote to us about a brief passage in Freakonomics concerning our analysis of online-dating data:
The part about men with curly and/or red hair being a downer? “Downer” may be something of an understatement. As a young man I had red, curly, and sometimes, frizzy hair. My dad told me at age 13 or 14 that if I didn’t do something with it, I would never find out what sex is. I was devastated by his meanness. I consider myself very lucky to have found a woman who will tolerate my red hair. Now, married almost 18 years, a couple months ago I started shaving my head smooth, baby-ass, bald; does it feel good. Now, when I walk into an office, the bank, pick someplace, I don’t exactly have to ask people to stop undressing, but their receptiveness to me is noticeable. Although my wife and daughters are still getting used to my shaven head, at least a dozen ladies (that’s 10 women and two men) think my shaven head looks good on me.
I wonder if Telly Savalas was a redhead?
On May 5, we asked readers to submit questions for Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam, authors of the recent book A Billion Wicked Thoughts: What the World’s Largest Experiment Reveals About Human Desire.
The response was, well… passionate. Many of the comments expressed anger over the authors’ research and resulting book. While some readers called into question the validity of their methodology, others complained that some of the terms they use in their book (“MILF,” e.g., and “Shemale”) were derogatory and insensitive. In the end, one thing was clear: when it comes to sex research, people tend to have strong opinions.
Now, Ogas and Gaddam respond, first with an opening summary of their methodology and results, and then with detailed responses to some of your questions. Read More »