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Lecture 3

ECN 340 Lecture Notes - Lecture 3: Mira-Bhayandar Municipal Corporation

Course Code
ECN 340
Thomas Barbiero

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ECN 340
Sexual Behaviour
Chapter 8 and 9
Sexual experiences cannot be fully explained with economic analysis, but we can certainly
make some progress
Sexual drive is a major impetus for human behaviour
There is good evolutionary reason for the interest in sex—the survival of the human species
depends on it!
Sex is simply another service that is wanted and supplied (desire)
Pornographic sites provide a service (mostly for men), as do men and women for each other
Economic Characteristics of Sex
Sex as a service:
-holding hands
-sexual intercourse
Different Sexual Practices
Immoral? That is a value judgment - economists do not judge this value
A matter of taste (some may want more sex, or just kissing.. etc)
We avoid passing judgement when we are trying to understand behaviour
For most it is the intensity of the sexual experience that make it so appealing
Most willing to pay higher cost to experience it compared to a PB sandwich because of higher
intensity of pleasure
Food alcohol and sex have all been shown to release dopamine in the same region of the brain
(the pleasure centre)
Interpersonal utility comparison
-impossible to do—what turns you on may not be what excites me
-some do indeed get higher utility from a sandwich and it depends on the timing: a starving
person may choose a sandwich to sex
The Law of Demand
As price of sex rises, quantity demanded falls and vice versa
(downward slopping demand)
Rational individual consumes up to the point MB=MC
Prostitutes know this very well: higher price, fewer tricks - even if demand is ‘inelastic’ - price
goes up, quantity demand goes down, but not that much because sex is so desirable same as
alcohol - someone would pay $15 not for water though
Both men and women demand more units of sex as price drops
Generally sex is more costly for women (pregnancy,)
Women can have relatively few children whereas men can father hundreds (thousands)
Thus women use their high cost reproductive resources with more care than men
Both biological and economic costs explain th differences in sexual strategies between males
and females
If men want more sex, what should they do?
find more resources at
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