Are sexually motivated men responsible for the recession?
One theme I discuss in BLONDES is that male economic resources are related to reproductive success. Consumption — of cars, clothes, vacation houses, horses, holidays, bling — is how guys show off their economic power, and in past years consumption in the U.S. has skyrocketed. So, incidentally, has the infidelity rate among both men and women.
According to a new study by Daniel Kruger a the University of Michigan, men with strong “mating intentions” do indeed spend more and save less than their less sexually motivated peers. Kruger and his colleagues conducted a random telephone survey, asking men to report their expenditures and sexual histories. Indeed, regardless of age, marital status, and education, guys who spent more than they saved — and who spent more than they earned (thanks to cheap and easy credit) — reported having more sexual partners and a desire for higher numbers of sexual partners than their more monogamous peers. The 25 percent of men who were fiscally conservative had an average of three sexual partners in the past five years, and only desired one partner in the next five years. The guys with the highest levels of conspicuous consumption doubled those figures.
The dirty little secret is that our economy runs on the male impulse, honed by thousands of years of evolution, to spend as a way to show status, which is in turn related to reproductive success. Imagine — what would happen to global markets if women were deliberately disinterested in the goods men have to offer?
Here’s a theory: did cheap and easy credit make it easier for men to attract more women than they would otherwise? Did low interest rates, easy mortgages, and generous credit lines inadvertently increase the divorce rate — or aid and abet infidelity? If so, could a recession actually mean more monogamy?