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« Crude Oil In Odd Places | Main | Sex As Fair Trade »

Comments

Mike

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that sex involves two people, i.e. if I want sex every morning and my wife wants sex every night, the end result would be little sex, and much frustration.

Now, I don't think this particular example is very likely the answer to the question, but sex does follow from sort of an unusual economic relationship - each person is both an exclusive supplier and exclusive consumer for the same product, and they affect each other in subtle ways.

Angie

I would have no issue with having sex anytime ... any place ... the issue is finding the right person.

As it is, I find having sex with myself the only sex I'll have in the near and distant future since I'm so damn picky! lol

Dave Tufte

REPLY TO MIKE'S COMMENT

I think of sex like trade, and I posted as much in a second post a few hours after this one.

There may be some merit in Mike's description of a sexual partner being a monopolist (the exclusive supplier in monogamous relationships). A monopolist maximizes their benefit by reducing the quantity of "stuff" that the offer. So there is some room for denying sex as an outcome.

But, I can't see this argument going far. The reason is that each partner is both a monopolist and a monopsonist (the rarer case of a single buyer rather than a single seller). So what we would have is two monopolists colluding, and two monopsonists colluding, and frankly I'm getting lost at this point. I'm interested in pursuing this argument, but for right now I can't even see how to go forward.

Dave Tufte

REPLY TO ANG'S COMMENT

I'm a happily married man, so I won't touch most of this.

But I'm very curious what was going on inside my head when I went to Angie's blog a few weeks ago (Ang's Weird Ideas http://www.ang6666.blogspot.com/), poked around a bit, and decided it was an interesting and unusual blog written by an Asian man named Ang. I guess I owe her a belated Happy Mother's Day!

Angie

ROFL Dave! Sorry!!! Never meant to confuse!!! You have actually now made my day!!! :)

Dave Tufte

ROFL2. You may be the first woman ever to be pleased that she was confused with an Asian man. ;)>

N. Beckmann

Sex leads to having babies (hopefully married sex). Try chasing 2 small children around all day along with doing the cooking, cleaning, errands and meeting you at the train station and see how sexy you feel at the end of the day.

Curmudgeon

N. Beckmann has provided the definitive excuse, er, reason. Michele Catalano conspicuously excepted, there is a whole world full of horny husbands and exhausted mother wives.

Dave Tufte

REPLY TO N. BECKMAN:

I have two kids (2 and 6) and I agree.

But, having said that, ask anyone in a relationship if they are getting enough. The key point is that the committed relationship should make sex cheaper/easier and therefore more likely. Yet, it doesn't always work that way. Why?

Dave Tufte

REPLY TO CURMUDGEON:

I don't think this is definitive at all. There are lots of surveys out there that show that married couples have more sex than singles do (which isn't really surprising given the search costs that others have mentioned).

I think this is still missing the big picture. No one out there is too tired to watch TV. Sex simply isn't that hard (no pun intended). Yes it is time consuming. Yes it is inconvenient. But if these things matter so much then sex can't be that valuable to us. But that is precisely what people don't say. Marginal Revolution's original post is still right: if sex is so great, and we have ways (like marriage) to reduce its cost, then we should have a lot more of it going on.

jmm

individuals are complicated. sex may have been a big reason for most couples to continue, but not the only or the primary. Sex can be seen as a means to an end, whether economically, psychologically, or sociologically. Sex doesn't have simply one valence: it can be self-sustaining, or hang on any number of motivators. If we assume, as Freud did, that it's a drive, any opportunity for, or lack of, sex, provides ways to satisfy the drive, or to attend to the underlying motivation. We don't have to believe in Freud to understand that sex can be both self-motivating, or reflective of other needs or desires. Economics is an interesting side track, but not a very good general explanation of sex, especially considering biological or social comcomitants.

Recent research has suggested that males "fall in love" much more easily than females. That doesn't say anything about the number of partners, or about "LOVE", or even about long-term connections. But it may suggest why this is mostly a male conversation about something more thoughtful females mights ignore.

Dave Tufte

Yikes. Less syllables and better punctuation please.

I think your position is solid, and its nice to have someone chime in with a perspective from psychology.

I will grouse though that economics may be more than an interesting side-track on this issue. The proof is in the pudding, and economic techniques have been underutilized in this area. We may not end up with a better explanation, but for right now we are definitely doing poorly from lack of trying.

I'D ALSO LIKE TO POINT THE DISCUSSION BACK TO WHAT I SEE AS THE BIG QUESTION: IF SEX IS SO GREAT, WHY DON'T WE HAVE MORE OF IT (WE KNOW PIZZA IS GREAT, BUT WE HAVE A PRETTY GOOD IDEA OF WHY WE DON'T EAT IT ALL THE TIME). BUT, WHAT'S UP WITH SEX?

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