Economist: Contraceptive Culture Shifts Economic Power away from Women

Whereas in the past, he says, “the marriage market was, by definition, populated by roughly the same number of men as women, there is no guarantee that once it has been separated into two markets, men and women will sort themselves into the sex and marriage markets in such a way that roughly equal numbers of each gender will inhabit each market.”

As it turns out, Reichert maintains, women end up entering the marriage market in greater numbers than men, due to their natural interest in raising children in a stable household. Meanwhile, the economist notes that men, who can reproduce much later in life than women and are required by nature to invest much less in the childbearing process, face far fewer incentives to move from one market to the next.

“The result is easy to see,” writes Reichert. While women have higher bargaining power in the sex market as the “scarce commodity,” he writes, “the picture is very different once these same women make the switch to the marriage market”: “The relative scarcity of marriageable men means that the competition among women for marriageable men is far fiercer than that faced by prior generations of women.

“Over time, this means that the ‘deals they cut’ become worse for them and better for men.”


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