Saturday, January 05, 2008

Report from the meetings

Suppose, for a moment, you are an avid fan of American college football. Your favorite team (either LSU or OSU) has made it to the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. You manage to get tickets, book a flight, and fly out early to enjoy the city and party a bit. You arrive in the Big Easy, ready to mix with all the other football fans, and find yourself surrounded by...

Economists. Hundreds of economists.

The football fans have finally outnumbered us, but up until this evening it wasn’t the case. In the hotels and on the streets you’d see these very puzzled looking football fans, with looks that said "did I come to the wrong town? In the wrong month? Something’s not right here." Economists are a very distinctive, nerdy looking bunch. Even now on Bourbon Street it looks like there must be fans for three teams: the Buckeyes, the Tigers, and the Fightin’ Optimizers.

There’ve been some very good sessions. I’ve tended to attend those on technology transfer and health care, but also attended one on the economics of markets for paid sex; it was particularly good. The most interesting paper in this session developed an economic explanation for the development of sexual reproduction, hermaphrodism, differentiated sexes, and gender. Fascinating stuff, and some has already made the biology journals.

Yes, football has nothing on this. Go, Econ, go!

(the economics of) the market of paid sex?
What is the point of purchasing something you can have for free,
What is the general market-value an offer that you can have for free? And if you cannot even manage to have a generally free and available offer for free, but have to purchase it, what does it tell about the ACTUAL value of demand. Make the answer simple please, ya prostaya kazachka...NV
Well, first you must realize that at a session that was supposed to be devoted to the economics of prostitution, we economists excitedly devoted much of our time to discussing why snails and slugs are simultaneously male and female. That alone should tell you a lot.

A more serious answer is that it appears that (in the U.S. at least) prostitution is far less common than it used to be, for exactly the reason you mention -- apparently sex before or w/o marriage is much more common than it used to be. According to Steve Levitt (yes, the Freakonomics guy, he was one of the presenters) what's left in the market is more heavily weighted to the unusual and sometimes violent -- the sort of thing girlfriends would tend not to put up with.

BTW, I had additional convention reports ready, but transferred rooms at some point and ended up with a shaky internet connection that kept breaking when I tried to post.

It may well be that the world will never see these brilliant observations... much as it will never see the Chinese beer ad that urban legends say was once here. (Yanjing refused my demands for product placement fees. Grrr.)
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