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Dollars and Sex: How Economics Influences Sex and Love

av Marina Adshade

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401489,982 (3.42)4
A big book on the economics of sex and love in the style of Freakonomics. A big book on the economics of sex and love in the style of Freakonomics. Like Freakonomics and the many other books that followed in the same vein, Marina Adshade's DOLLARS AND SEX traffics in the mysteries of everyday life and how we, as humans, make decisions. But Adshade takes a more stimulating approach by focusing on the really juicy parts: how we make these decisions as they pertain to love, sex, and marriage. By gathering date from around the globe, asking the right questions, and making unconventional connections, Adshade is able to hold a mirror up to our collective libidinous behavior and tell us stories about ourselves that we may be surprised to learn. Among the book's more provocative lessons: More women than men are attending university, resulting in an increase in casual hook-ups, but a decline in long-term dating; Women care significantly about income when searching for love online, but they still prefer a really hot guy over one who is not (unless he makes a TON of money); Marriage rates are falling as women's education rates and wages increase, so if you want a better chance at marriage, you might want to spend less time in school!… (mer)
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This is an entertaining read that applies economic analysis to issues of sex and love. It recounts relevant economic studies in a surprisingly readable way, grouping them into thematic chapters that roughly follow the course of a human life: we encounter a chapter about college promiscuity near the beginning, a chapter about marriage in the middle, and a chapter about relationships among seniors at the end. Each of these chapters offers up interesting and often surprising analysis, including the idea that colleges with higher ratios of women to men have higher rates of casual sex. (On the whole, college women are more interested in longer-term relationships, while college men are more interested in casual hook-ups; in a situation where women outnumber men and are essentially competing for a scarce resource, the women are more likely to enter into relationships that don't meet their ideal criteria--basically, the men have more power here.)

Besides being entertaining, some of the studies here are pretty sobering. For example, there's a higher birth rate among teens in states with higher levels of social inequality. As the cost of college goes up, so does the average number of teen sexual partners. Basically, all decisions involve some sort of analysis of risk vs. reward, and if people don't feel like they have a lot to lose, then they're more likely to engage in risky behaviour. Unfortunately, there are a lot of young people in the United States who don't see any realistic path to success in their future, so they aren't particularly careful to avoid behaviour that might hold them back. On the other hand, teenagers who do imagine a college degree in their future, and who can see the rewards that that degree will bring, are less likely to engage in behaviour that will put their futures at risk, like having children at a very young age. This was an illuminating, if depressing, analysis that highlights some important problems for society in general.

I have to admit that there were times when I found the economic analysis a bit too cold for the topic at hand, especially when it comes to the question of choosing a mate. Adshade focuses on online dating, which puts a more quantitative spin on this major life decision, while acknowledging that the intangibles can actually contribute much more to a successful relationship. Given the quantitative online-dating perspective, Adshade argues that one of the main obstacles to making a successful romantic match is valuing ourselves too highly. We need to have a better sense of our own worth so that we can make the necessary trade-offs and find a partner who is willing to accept us as well, instead of reaching out only to the most attractive, educated, successful potential mates.

On the one hand, this sounds logical; on the other hand, I don't feel like it matches my own experience at all. I'm really not convinced that there exists someone out there who's as good a match for me, personality-wise, as my current partner, but is just a few inches taller than him, and that I could be with that person instead if I were only 15 pounds lighter. The entire concept feels wrong. Possibly my situation is different because I haven't actually tried online dating, so I haven't approached it as a check-the-boxes type exercise (must be at least this tall, must have at least this much education, must earn at least this much money), but I still couldn't help feeling that something was missing from this analysis.

Still, I really enjoyed the book on the whole. There were many more moments of "oh, that makes sense in an unexpected way!" than moments where I felt like the analysis was unsatisfactory. I'd imagine that fans of Dan Ariely (Predictably Irrational) would like it as well. Adshade provides some interesting insights into how the world works, while also revealing some problems with the current system. If you want to be entertained, informed, and perhaps even challenged, I'd recommend reading this book. ( )
6 rösta _Zoe_ | Jul 18, 2013 |
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A big book on the economics of sex and love in the style of Freakonomics. A big book on the economics of sex and love in the style of Freakonomics. Like Freakonomics and the many other books that followed in the same vein, Marina Adshade's DOLLARS AND SEX traffics in the mysteries of everyday life and how we, as humans, make decisions. But Adshade takes a more stimulating approach by focusing on the really juicy parts: how we make these decisions as they pertain to love, sex, and marriage. By gathering date from around the globe, asking the right questions, and making unconventional connections, Adshade is able to hold a mirror up to our collective libidinous behavior and tell us stories about ourselves that we may be surprised to learn. Among the book's more provocative lessons: More women than men are attending university, resulting in an increase in casual hook-ups, but a decline in long-term dating; Women care significantly about income when searching for love online, but they still prefer a really hot guy over one who is not (unless he makes a TON of money); Marriage rates are falling as women's education rates and wages increase, so if you want a better chance at marriage, you might want to spend less time in school!

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