Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Economics of Sexual Behaviour

by Berly

I was just thinking to write a piece about economics of happiness since my department going to organize summer school about it.

That is until I stumbled upon two interesting articles. The first article was published on Lancet, the Econometrica of medical journal, with Professor Kaye Wellings from London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine as principal author. The second one was presented by Todd Kendal at Stanford Law School’s Law and Economics seminar. You may wonder what those two articles got to do with Economics.

The first paper is aptly titled “Sexual behaviour in context: a global perspective.” (Now that’s a topic people can think global and act local). Welling et al found that the richer a country, then the later people married and the higher incidence for premarital sex with men enjoying (no pun intended) higher increase than women.

The rich country’s citizen experience larger age differences between men and women when they loose their virginity (in case you are wondering, it is 16,5 year and 17,5 year for UK and 24,5 year and 18,5 year for Indonesia). Lastly, the high income country saw more sexual partners for women than in low income countries (in Cameroon, Haiti, and Kenya, men on average have multiple partners while women tend only to have one).

The second paper studies relationship between pornography, rape and internet. Kendal used state level panel data in US from 1998-2003 to found a 10 percentage point increase in internet access is associated with a decline of 7.3%in reported rape victimization. Cross checking the data with arrest list, he found the decline is largest on young male but having no significant correlation with other crime types. One of the main arguments against porn is its addictive properties (like smoking) that push users for more and more stimulation that could lead to rape if continuously feed upon. The study refutes it.

So increasing education and investment for higher income are only a façade for glorified pervert world? When Todaro talked of development as increasing choice and Sen spoke of development of freedom, they may not realized that they are also advocating rich women to be able to choose between multiple sex partner and teenager boys using their freedom to substitute rape with internet porn.

But I can’t help but wondering how my undergrad development economics class would be much more interesting if these topics were covered. Development is indeed an elusive concept.

1 comment:

aroundthecorner said...

interesting point of view. Btw, for "loose virginity" number, does it also take account incidents of loosing virginity due to marriage? I think when it is excluded, the gap will be much higher. Anyway, very interesting starting point for many forthcoming papers. It is now time to start thinkin out of the box