Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Teen sex: are female droping scruples due to the lack of men?

The marriage market unfortunately does not benefit from a mechanism design initiative like for kidney matching. It still is a difficult search with hits and misses. A not insignificant part of the process is the use of sex to attract potential matches. What would economists have to say about this?

Peter Arcidiacomo, Andrew Beauchanp and Marjorie McElroy model this market with a directed search model with male and females of different types and preferences. The search is directed in the sense that individuals look at the type of relationship (sex/no sex), the type of the person and the matching (mating?) probabilities. Clearly, if a gender outnumbers the other, it will go for matches that are high probability even though they are less-preferred. Beyond this, it is difficult to get results, thus they proceed to calibrate the model by using data from high school relationships. They conclude that men value sex more than women (big surprise) and that while some women would not have sex, they still agree to it because they are concerned they could miss on good matches when men are scarce. That could explain high rates of teen pregnancies is some parts of the US population where lots of men are in prison or simply not interesting because of low education compared to the women (the majority of high school drop outs are men).

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