Tim Harford The Undercover Economist

Articles published in July, 2007

Esquire: How economics can improve your sex life

The dismal science keeps crashing through those boundaries, and I am now offering dating advice to the readers of Esquire (UK). Unfortunately they don’t have a proper website, so you’ll need to buy it if you want to read the article.

Here’s a taster:

If there’s one thing that economists understand, then it’s supply and demand. No matter how attractive a dating proposition you are, you can always put yourself in a stronger position by making sure that you’re in a place where there aren’t enough men to go around. In other words, you need to live in a seller’s market.
Carrie Bradshaw, the lead character in Sex in the City, grumbled “that there 1.3 million single men in Manhattan and 1.8 million women” but she didn’t stop to wonder why.
New York-based economist Lena Edlund (whose research includes “A Theory of Prostitution” and “Hermaphroditism: What’s not to Like?”) argues that the reason cities have an excess supply of young women is that they offer them two bites at the cherry: good jobs, and rich husbands.
In case you doubt this explanation, Edlund looked carefully at the situation in Sweden. She found that the richer the men, the larger the supply of available women in the local area. I think it’s pretty clear what is going on here. So if you want to be surrounded by unattached young women, live in an area full of wealthy guys.
Most big cities provide well-stocked hunting grounds for men but in the UK, the top locations include leafy stockbroker-belt towns in Hertfordshire (between the ages of 20-35, there are 113 women chasing every 100 men), Berwick-on-Tweed (112 young women per 100 young men) and Kensington and Chelsea (108 – and you thought all those girls on the King’s Road were shopping for shoes). Mews houses in SW6 don’t come cheap, of course, but if there’s one thing economics tells us it’s that there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

Note: if you are reading this magazine in Rutland, Oxford or Cambridge, the deck is stacked against you. And with three young guys for each girl, the Isles of Scilly have all the demographic desirability of a North Sea oil rig.

4th of July, 2007MarginaliaOther WritingComments off

Why voters are idiots: book forum

Bryan Caplan, GMU economist, superb blogger and author of “The Myth of the Rational Voter“, is appearing at the Cato Institute at Washington DC on 17 July. If you’re in the area, check it out – the book has been attracting attention from The Economist to The New Yorker.

3rd of July, 2007MarginaliaComments off


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