Friday, September 07, 2007

Sex and the Economy

I'm going to get into terrible trouble from all sorts of people for this post, but I feel I should share it with you.
The other evening, we had some friends in who were talking about a friend of theirs ( Mr.X) who had dumped his wife in exchange for a much younger, but Korean version. When they had been introduced, the wife of our guests says, this Miss Korea 2005 had sat looking immaculate, answering her husband's every whim. Now our friend's wife said that the feeling had been that Miss Korea 2005 was being exploted by the husband, but further investigation showed this might not be the case. In fact, she travelled around in business class, she had a nanny to look after the children, she had money to buy what she wanted, and all she had to do was , er, service her husband. A form of prostitution? Well, yes, but what about the wife of the person she was visiting? She worked, bought the food, cooked it, looked largely like a worn out old sweater, had to drive the children all over the place - anyway you get the picture. Who is doing the most exploitation? The husband of the Scottish girl or the Korean?
Anyway, this set my economist instincts twitching. Mrs. Lear, when a student in Florence, had a friend who was male who used to ask the local prostitutes what they charged, and wrote the answers in a little book. I'm not sure quite why he was doing this, unless he was trying to get a freebie.
So lets start with a basic premise - suppose it costs £100 for a man to have sex. Now I know it can be much less or much more, but bear with me.
According to research, it's not the French or the Italians who have the most sex, but an average European 25-45 year old male has sex three times a week. Forget older and younger for the moment. So that would cost him £300 per week with a prostitute or say £15,000 a year.
If, on the other hand, he marries, the sex is free. Actually, in economic terms, it is not.
What is the cost of the house, the children etc etc - even if the wife works, the man has a cost which probably isn't a million miles away from the £15,000 postulated above.
Where his sex becomes really expensive, is if he gets a divorce, and has to hand over half his assets - driving up the economic cost per session enormously. A 45 year old divorcing and handing over eg £250,000 increases his costs to about £200 a time.
So my thoughts on the young man in Florence are that he had already glimpsed a potential Nobel Economics Prize-winning postulation - that it is cheaper to have sex than get a divorce.

4 comments:

In Actual Fact said...

Was it not Heidi Fleiss who said, or at least popularised, the phrase that her clients 'paid women not for the sex but to go away afterwards'?

kinglear said...

Ah Mr. Fact, I feel you have hit the nail on the head..... NO NO not at all

007and a half said...

He, he :-)

I have heard that men talk to women so that they can have sex with them, whereas women sleep with men so that they can talk to them.

But seriously, isn't there possibly more to marriage than sex for money? Ideally, it should be a meeting of minds, a sharing of life's rich experiences and someone with whom to laugh, drink wine and see the world?

er...no...that doesn't sound right, maybe you were right after all ;-)

kinglear said...

007.5 - let me take you back to that lovely film with the divine Audrey Hepburn and the somewhat less divine Albert Finney , Two for the Road. When they first meet as young people, they are in a restaurant holding hands, gazing at each other, chatting, and they look across to a middle aged couple who are eyes down, eating their food.
" What kind of people don't talk to one another?" breathed Miss H.
" Married people" says Mr. F.
See the film - it comes out all right in the end.