We keep hearing that young men are failing to adapt to contemporary life.
Their financial prospects are impaired—earnings for 25- to 34-year-old men have fallen by 20 percent since 1971.
The price of sex is low, in other words, in part because its costs to women are lower than they used to be.
But just as critical is the fact that a significant number of young men are faring rather badly in life, and are thus skewing the dating pool.
Instead, according to the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (which collects data well into adulthood), none of these things is occurring. The terms of contemporary sexual relationships favor men and what they want in relationships, not just despite the fact that what they have to offer has diminished, but in part because of it. To better understand what's going on, it's worth a crash course in "sexual economics," an approach best articulated by social psychologists Roy Baumeister and Kathleen Vohs.
As Baumeister, Vohs, and others have repeatedly shown, on average, men want sex more than women do.
If she were operating within a collegiate sexual economy that wasn't oversupplied with women, men would compete for her and she would easily secure the long-term commitment she says she wants.
Meanwhile, Julia, a 21-year-old from Arizona who's been in a sexual relationship for two years, is frustrated by her boyfriend's wish to "enjoy the moment and not worry about the future." Michelle, a 20-year-old from Colorado, said she is in the same boat: "I had an ex-boyfriend of mine who said that, um, he didn't know if he was ever going to get married because, he said, there's always going to be someone better." If this is And yet while young men's failures in life are not penalizing them in the bedroom, their sexual success may, ironically, be hindering their drive to achieve in life.
As a result, the sexual decisions of young women look more like those of men than they once did, at least when women are in their twenties.
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(In one Manhattan ZIP code, for example, women account for 63 percent of 22-year-olds.) that when men outnumber women, women have the upper hand: Marriage rates rise and fewer children are born outside marriage.
An oversupply of women, however, tends to lead to a more sexually permissive culture. In the course of researching our book , my co-author and I assessed the effects of campus sex ratios on women's sexual attitudes and behavior.