2011 January 10 Monday
The Economics Of High School Sex

Using the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health some Duke and Boston College researchers have published a research paper Terms of Endearment", that shows high school freshmen boys have the hardest time getting girls to say yes to sex and high school senior girls feel the strongest incentives to say yes.

A tamer version of that observation is borne out in the economists' work among high schoolers. Unsurprisingly, the majority of high school boys want to have sex (though only 47.6 percent of freshmen boys do). Unsurprisingly, the majority of high school girls do not (though 50.1 percent of senior girls do). Over the course of four years, the power shifts from the freshman girls who don't want to have sex to the senior boys who do.

The conclusion? Though high-school girls don't really want to have sex, many more of them end up doing so in order to "match" with a high-school boy. For them, a relationship at some point becomes more important than purity. Because of that phenomenon, in schools with more boys than girls, the girls hold more cards and have less sex. Where there are more girls, the male preference for sex tends to win out.

The senior guys are most desired and they prefer younger girls. So the senior girls are at a competitive disadvantage and so offer more sexual favors. This prepares the college-bound girls for the sex and relationship market they'll encounter in college. Once in college the girls who aren't absolute hotties will offer themselves up pretty easily to the Lacrosse team.

After participating in the sexual marketplace dangerous bitterness over disappointments can result. The truth about human sexuality is not pretty.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2011 January 10 07:58 PM  Human Nature Mating

John Feras said at January 11, 2011 3:20 AM:

Somewhat related.. one of the guys associated with the okcupid dating site has a blog where he often posts about trends observed in the actual data collected regarding user activity and interactions. Yesterday's post was very interesting with regard to why some women who are generally perceived as average or only slightly above average in terms of attractiveness receive a disproportionately high number of messages as compared to women who are generally perceived as very attractive. Based on the possible underlying causes, it went on to recommend ways in which women can maximize their competitive advantage. You can read it here

California kid said at January 11, 2011 11:36 AM:

This website has lots of analytical (but very readable) articles on female beauty, with pictures.
Lots of good "HBD" stuff in there.

bbartlog said at January 11, 2011 2:08 PM:

Interestingly I saw a lot more actual bitterness among disillusioned men. Not that the women didn't also end up disillusioned, but most of them took it better in some sense.

Randall Parker said at January 12, 2011 7:47 PM:


I think men are sold bigger myths about women than women are about men. It is women who are put on pedestals. So greater male bitterness makes sense.

Skot German said at January 14, 2011 12:27 PM:

Male bitterness over sex? There must be some context for your remark that I am missing. I can't recall in my 55 years a time when I have heard a male express any kind of bitterness or regret about their sexual encounters. I have seen plenty of bitterness about failed marriages and children, but none about sex.

TangoMan said at January 14, 2011 11:55 PM:

Skot German,

Did you read the New York Times link that Randall provided and in particular this part of the report:

Jayne Dallas, a senior studying advertising who was seated across the table, grumbled that the population of male undergraduates was even smaller when you looked at it as a dating pool. “Out of that 40 percent, there are maybe 20 percent that we would consider, and out of those 20, 10 have girlfriends, so all the girls are fighting over that other 10 percent,” she said.

Even in an environment where women outnumber men, the women tend to compete for a small segment of the male population and the result is that there are some men who are dying of thirst of a pool of women. I imagine that these men are bitter. I too have not heard of any men who express bitterness about their sexual encounters but what I have heard is some men expressing bitterness about their lack of sexual encounters.

Kralizec said at January 18, 2011 8:25 AM:

Randall, you said, "The truth about human sexuality is not pretty." However, perhaps only this truth about human sexuality is not pretty.

no i don't said at January 18, 2011 5:43 PM:

"The truth about human sexuality is not pretty."

I think I'll dissagree. I think the truth is always nice to discover even it doesn't accomodate our social prejudices and tempos. It's not sexuality that is not pretty; it's the economic system that makes sexuality look not pretty, I think. If I had to chose to do away with sexuality as it is now or do away with the system, I choose the system.

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