Puzzles in search of answers: why are men losing ground?

“I think the greatest, most astonishing fact that I am aware of in social science right now is that women have been able to hear the labor market screaming out ‘You need more education’ and have been able to respond to that, and men have not,” said Michael Greenstone, an M.I.T. economics professor who was not involved in Professor Autor’s work. “And it’s very, very scary for economists because people should be responding to price signals. And men are not. It’s a fact in need of an explanation.”

Most economists agree that men have suffered disproportionately from economic changes like the decline of manufacturing. But careful analyses have found that such changes explain only a small part of the shrinking wage gap.

That is from a very excellent article by Binyamin Applebaum, on why men are (along some but not all margins) losing economic ground, especially below the ranks of the top earners.  I liked this sentence at the end:

Instead of making marriage more attractive, he [Christopher Jencks] said, it might be better for society to help make men more attractive.

As I once asked Bryan Caplan, “How many marriageable men do you think there are?  And what are the other women supposed to do?”


One unasked question: Over this time period, what has happened to the return on being a provider, for men? How has the basket of traits that determine "marriageability," or other metrics of romantic success for men, changed?

Indeed, if you're a sexy guy, why make a lot of money when women will still sleep with you?

If you're not a sexy guy, why make a lot of money when women won't sleep with you no matter what?

Being a provider has become more or less useless in attracting a woman since women can make money on their own (or get handouts from the government).

So, if you want to get more (or at least more attractive) women you are better off pursuing that directly.

Agreed. You're much better off as a bartender than an accountant these days. Money used to be a proxy for male fitness, but it no longer seems to be.

It makes sense that in a society where access to young women is easy for young men, males' discount rates will rise. After all, if you can plant your seed far and wide in fertile women before you are 30, why would plan your life for an age beyond 30? Your evolutionary work is done.

Sex signals trump price signals.

We had a little office text chat. On it a young male engineer asked "what sport should I take up?" I said "you should become a yoga instructor." There were a chorus of "that's gay(s)" from so many people who didn't get it. lol.

Plenty of smart, talented, educated women see the allure of the rat race wear off quickly. These women, btw, are good catches, because they understand what it means to be stuck in the rat race, so you get credit for rolling your ass out of bed at 5 in the morning.

And the traditional family still has a lot to recommend it for all involved. Not a social construct so much as a GOOD IDEA.

So, a meal ticket is still a good strategy, particularly with more and more men throwing in the towel.

But most guys would be out of bed at 5 AM to shlep to the rat race for a wife who spent most (all?) her best years riding the carousel. If you call that a good strategy, you may not want to play too many games of chance.

What bluto says. Yeah, family is win-win-win for women. They get money, stability, and the lion's share of goods and kids when they (at twice the rate of men) dissolve that family. For men, we get the dregs of frat-boy trains in exchange for all this effort. I can't speak for all men, but I can speak for myself, and I don't want it. And I'm not sure I'm so out of the ordinary.

Tarrou, I don't blame you. I wouldn't want to enter a marriage where divorce was the likely outcome either.

If family is just a win-win-win for females, why do so many guys with this view hearken for the good old days? Family, done properly, is a win-win-win for all members of the family.

There have always been suckers and gold diggers. Don't be a sucker. You could even join a frat yourself.

Brian. I don't hearken to the old days, but I assume those who do want the same stability women do, but are unable to get with current divorce and family law. And I did join a frat, called the US Infantry. Plenty of those dregs-of-trains straggled out of our barracks. Getting women isn't the problem, I'm 32, in reasonable shape, set for money with a long term girlfriend and a host of hobbies which include arguing on economics websites. I really don't see the percentage in getting married so I can split my earnings between lawyers and an ex.

At the risk of being labelled a beta-schlub, I will tell you that having and raising kids makes most of the rest of the stuff I've done on this Earth seem comparatively meaningless.

And yeah, guys get hosed sometimes, and prolly more than they used to, but to me this is the Game, not Roissy's notch-count.

If you want to play, you take the risks. Keep your eyes open, don't be a sucker. If it works, there's a pretty good percentage in it.

Some guys mebbe aren't interested in family. For them, Roissy FTW.

Brian, I think the point is more, marriage minded women today very rarely match the terms that marriage meant in the good old days (women trade exclusivity during their most attractive and fertile years for a lifetime of support for the offspring). Marriage minded women today are frequently in their 30s and responding to a biological clock's alarm or looking for a father for another man's sons.
Men see this exchange as a poor value have shifted their strategy to either not play and slack or invest in being attractive to 20 something women who are looking for fun and excitement rather than a good provider. Some men in both groups recognize the important of the original exchange and harken back to the good old days' real swaps of value, and the societal stability and wealth it produced.

Jason Collins should be doing backflips over this thread:

Tarrou is dropping out of the gene pool, Brian Donohue is not. There are numerous other examples below. To the extent that there's anything heritable in those tendencies, we're in for some big changes in the next few generations.

Brian, I'm not interested in labelling you. I get that some people like reproduction. I'm one of seven, and I have nearly two hundred first cousins. My genetic line is strong. I just don't personally want to engage in it, marriage or no. And I must say, if I did want kids, I would want to get married, the science is good on that front.

Bluto is still on it in terms of female behavior, there is a vast difference between a 20-yo and a 30-yo. Which is why I date a 30-yo. But were I searching for a marriage, I might well look differently.

Finch, I used to get paid quite decently (for a college freshman) for donating to the sperm bank. a few standard deviations up in height, IQ, etc. I may not ever raise children, but I've got a decent chance of perpetuating those genes, not to mention the large family I noted above.

Family, done properly, is a win-win-win for all members of the family.

Indeed. If you want to have a family and can find an educated woman that isn't too old and hasn't slept around too much you should go for it.

"that isn’t too old and hasn’t slept around too much you should go for it."

Why should a man care if the woman is ready to settle down. If she is disease free the past is the past. If she is "experienced" she won't waste any time wondering what she might be missing - she will know exactly.

A female partner's past sexual experience matters because the more intimate partners a woman has had, the less well she is able to bond with a man. Hence, the more sexual partners a woman has had, the higher the likelihood will be that she will seek a divorce:

"The most salient finding from this analysis is that women whose intimate premarital relationships are limited to their husbands—either premarital sex alone or premarital cohabitation—do not experience an increased risk of divorce. It is only women who have more than one intimate premarital relationship who have an elevated risk of marital disruption. This effect is strongest for women who have multiple premarital coresidental unions."


There is a big difference between "sleeping around" and "multiple premarital coresidental unions".

The more lifetime sexual partners a woman has, the less likely she is to be in a stable marriage. Above the age of 30, 80% of women who had no sexual partners prior to their spouse are in a stable marriage (has been with same husband for 5+years) compared to 54% who had one 1 pre-marital sexual partner, 44% who had 2, and 39% who have had just 3 non-marital sexual partners.

Go to page 18, Chart 15:

There's no avoiding it. The more promiscuous a woman is, the less suitable she is as a wife, all else being equal. It's a shame we have to rediscover basic truths like this, like Renaissance scholars excavating Roman ruins and statuary.

a meal ticket is still a good strategy

Not really. These women may drop out from the really competitive rat races, but they can still make a pretty good salary, which by historical standards is insanely rich. So, why not pursue Mr. Sexytime?

Or women could take the best of all worlds. Marry a serviceman. You get a steady paycheck, free housing, you can work your own job, your husband is in the field half the time, so plenty of freedom. And you have a whole base full of testosterone-jumped soldiers in the prime of their lives and physical conditions to cheat with! No rat race, no home responsibility, two incomes and all the dick you can eat!

I wasn't aware being a social construct ruled out also being a good (or bad) idea.

My point is that it is not merely a social construct, contra left-wing ideology.

If the nuclear family were eliminated tomorrow, it would quickly re-emerge without the help of any social engineering. Because it's a GOOD IDEA. Savvy?

There aren't other motivations besides sleeping with women? What about long term security, what about recognition/respect/concern with one's own status in the community, what about job satisfaction?

This notion that men don't make money because there's no point if women will otherwise sleep with you seems very superficial and one-dimensional. Motivations are far more complex than that.

Even besides that, it's a bad strategy purely from a sexual viewpoint because there's only so long it will last. Once you get older, even if you are a player, most younger attractive women won't want to sleep with you unless you're wealthy and can provide for them. From a long term perspective, high status seems to be a better strategy for finding mates, since it works both when you're young and old, whereas the casanova approach only works when young.

Guess what, science shows you are wrong.

This just came out in PLos One (h.t. Roissy)
An ERP study on decisions between attractive females and money.

Glad to see there is already 150 others here countering the various pretty lies that exist, just contributing my part...

You didn't address my point. All you said was "science says you're wrong" and then attached a link, as if that proves something. Well, how does it show what I said was wrong? All I saw was a glob of words about neural processes and ERP waves, but nothing about what I said. I don't deny that sex may play a role in decision making for some people - that wasn't my claim. My claim was that sex is not the only motivating factor in making decisions about your career, which is a relatively uncontroversial point, which you'd think one would accept by simple observation. But I guess the pseudo-scientific discoveries of psychology prove me wrong. After all, the ERP waves prove it, man. It's science. Duh.

"Glad to see there is already 150 others here countering the various pretty lies that exist, just contributing my part…"

that's right. the ruling lords of lies will never let up. they will lie unto their last breaths, for that is what it will take -- confrontation with annihilation -- to coerce them to acknowledge the insidious nature of their characters. they have too much to lose to start spewing the truth now. which is why all lovers of truth and beauty must grip the hilt and hold the sword tip to their throats, every hour of every day, eternally merciless and unrelenting in demanding the capitulation of the liars and their lying lackeys. no matter how much it hurts the feelings of cocktail party hosts and status whoring SWPLs.

"You didn’t address my point. All you said was “science says you’re wrong” and then attached a link, as if that proves something. Well, how does it show what I said was wrong?"

for your edification:

executive summary: if the sex is cheap, men will skip the hard slog of gaining status for the immediate rewards of copulation. it's sexual market biomechanics all the way down. can you dig it?

I think the sports illustrated swimsuit issue illustrated how men would prefer to look at attractive women than to have $4.95.

Also: What's in it for high-status, "marriagable" men to get married? Can't many of them get a lot of sex and companionship without being married?

Research has shown marriage has many benefits for men--it increases their happiness, income, physical health and longevity. A quick google returns tons of stats.

Also, it's the path to kids.

Evolution is going to come down hard on this trend.

Bingo. Maybe a biologist would see the same study and say, "And it’s very, very scary for biologists because people should be responding to biological signals."

I suspect that the most primitive regions of our brains don't yet understand how contraception works so getting laid a lot = having kids, in human machine language. Biologists likely understand this.

For men, yes, not women.

"For men, yes, not women."

Which would explain why men are dropping out and women aren't.

You can have kids without marrying.

In fact it might be the better strategy.

Path 1: You knock a bird up and at most have to pay child support which in most jurisdictions for one child would be about 15%-20% of income and would probably cap at 50% no matter how many children you have.

Path 2: You knock up a bird, you marry her, 5 years later she divorces you, takes the home and the car leaving you with no assets, you have to pay alimony and child support equaling 50% of income, she uses her new found wealth and freedom to pursue cads (that is men out of her league and hence won't commit to her but since she has your money now she doesn't need to seek commitment from men. She can pursue men on the basis of pure genetic quality now because you're financing it.) Oh and 13 years later you find out the kid wasn't even yours.

Path 1 has a lot less risk, and a lot less costs.

sorry Finch, given the rise of single mothers, the opposite trend might be the case.

There's no way they'll compete with the Mormons.

@mmccauley: Does the marriage increase the man's income, or men with higher incomes have a higher chance of getting married? Does the marriage increase the man's health, or healthier men have a higher chance of getting married? By the way, logevity is the same for always-married men compared to NEVER-married men. It's the young men who have a high death rate (and most of them are unmarried at that age anyway) and divorced men (also counting as unmarried).

Stats are useless if you don't know how to interpret them. One could prove anything with stats.

I also think those "married men live longer" stats don't include divorced men into the figures which is very misleading.

Um...yeah, young men are dropping like flies and octogenarians have a much lower mortality rate. Maybe you need to retake that stat class you're recommending.

@Carolynp, I am not comparing young men with octogenarians. I am comparing married men with unmarried men. Maybe you should retake the statistics class.

@Carolynp if you have one hundred unmarried men who die at 80, and one hundred married men who die at 80, is there any difference in the average lifespan between the two?

Now, to the UNmarried men group you add all the teenagers who died doing stupid stuff like drunk driving, all the homeless men, all the middle aged men who killed themseleves after a divorce, all the poor men who can barely find a job for minimum wage (good luck to them trying to get married), all the severely sick YOUNG men (good luck to them trying to get married), and so on... How is that average lifespan looking?

Did you ever hear about SELECTION BIAS? Because this is what's happening here. The UNmarried men group contains more low quality/health/intelligence/... individuals than the married group. And this does not mean that if John Doe gets married, his lifespan will magically increse.

Thats true, as far as it goes, and as far as you can trust self reporting studies, but the stats for guys who stay single are actually pretty close. You know which group does the worst on those metrics though? Divorced guys. And married guys have a greater than 50% chance of ending up as divorced guys.

Despite what the stats say however...I cant really say the married guys I know seem all that happy. They may earn more but they do have to work harder to make that happen and they certainly aint the ones spending that extra money.

If you are a white male college grad marrying a white female college grad, neither of you have married before, and the woman has had few or no other partners, your probability of divorce is very small. I think those things are all well studied. My own impression is you can further help your odds if you choose a thin wife who likes exercise and a husband with a good but not "great" job.

It's not like people go into marriage with no a priori knowledge of the likely outcomes.

I always laugh when I hear that marriage magically increases a mans income. Have you ever stopped to think that maybe married men have to work harder and earn more; so they can finance their wife who sits around at home all day eating bon-bons and spending their money.

Who's better off?

A man who is able to work less, and enjoy his life while earning a slightly lower wage. But still have more disposable income, and money left over at the end of the month to save.

Or a married man who's up to his neck in debt; working himself into an early grave, that has a fat wife who sits at home all day in a McMansion spending his money.

Also yes married men live longer then single men. Just as indoor cats live longer then outdoor cats. An indoor cat is a furball with a broken spirit, that can only look out on a world it can never enjoy. But it does technically live longer.

A woman is still better off with a man who has a modest but stable income than on her own. The problem is that there are too many men without even that much.

Well, in regards to women being able to "hear the labor market," let's not forget that the return to education is larger for women, in a monetary sense. (I have some feeling that the return for men for education is a decreased chance of injury or death on the job, things that are common in low education but high wage male jobs but absent from female dominated jobs, to the extent that men suffer ~95% of all workplace fatalities.) Not all of the story, naturally.

The return being larger might explain why more women than men would go to college, but this just passes the buck (*why* is the return larger?) and it doesn't deal with the initial claim in the article that men's earnings are actually *falling*:

> The decline of two-parent households may be a significant reason for the divergent fortunes of male workers, whose earnings generally declined in recent decades, and female workers, whose earnings generally increased, a prominent labor economist argues in a new survey of existing research.

rather than simply stagnating, or increasing at a rate less than women.

I think Roissy would say men are indeed responding to price signals. Just not those ones.




Kinda. If you accept any of the evolutionary neurobiology then you must accept, at least in abstract, the idea that biases were programmed in another world. Yes, genetics are not destiny. Culture matters. Individual cognition matters. All that is different from highly cognitive approaches to life planning. The parallel with early AI might be that bright, highly cognitive, individuals thought that animal intelligence was like them. Economists also might think they are more (neuro)typical than they actually are.

I think that the average woman's work habits: orderly, conscientious, neat, punctual, are more suited to office/professional work than the average man. Less is also expected of young men (due to delay in marriage and fatherhood) and a significant portion of them will slide into idleness.

+1 on your first sentence. Declining relative value of physical labor was always gonna be a problem for guys, bra burnings or not.

Also note that Western governments, through regulation and taxation, severely decrease the incentives for young men to take risks (ie: by starting their own business in an unexplored domain). For some men it's just not worth the effort anymore.

Are there any unexplored domains? When one opens up (as the Web did in the 90s) it's very rapidly explored and within a few years it's no longer a frontier zone. Sp really, the problem is that there are too few "new" areas, and they do not remain wide open for long-- not because of government regulation, but because the Big Boys very rapidly co-opt virgin territory.

A century or two ago, some "enlightened" people said that the Patent Office became useless because there is nothing left to invent.

that did not happen:


Why does anyone fall behind? Once everyone understood women could work, why didn't jobs double?

+1. According to conventional narratives, GDP should have doubled above trend. Now this doesn't mean that human well-being should necessarily have doubled, thanks to the standard complains about GDP. But we don't even see an artificial numerical bump - implying something must have fallen flat.

If education is purely signaling, this would be completely consistent. Why do men need more education for jobs that did not used to require education? If they had had the 'required' education, would their plant not have been off-shored? Or, are we just shifting to service jobs, and "these jobs you used to be up for, we have all these new workers over here who have better credentials." Maybe the emasculating scissors have Asians on one side and women on the other.

This would only be true if you ascribe 0 value to the non-GDP activity women did (and people do) en lieu of getting a job. If instead of mowing my lawn I hire someone else to do it, I've just increased GDP without actually changing the amount of work done.

And you'll note that we did experience pretty good GDP growth in the post-WWII era, albeit not a doubling.

mavery, read this line again:
"...thanks to the standard complains about GDP..."

What you've just described is in fact a typical complaint about GDP, that it neglects the value of non-market goods. Now take a second look at the argument: AC has a point.

Human nature is complicated. I think though that both of these questions, why no education, and what women choose, has something to do with the American idea of alpha-male-ness. An American alpha male demonstrates risk taking over steady investment. A big truck is more alpha than a Honda Civic.


This is a recent change and I believe other provinces are following suit. In a chat with a client yesterday he was worried about his son, who has a house and business and a common law relationship that is close to two years or so. The comment was that if he isn't careful it will all be hers.

Of course this couldn't have anything to do with it.

Interesting. So you have to get a lawyer to make sure you're NOT married!

The incredible arrogance of that Greenstone quote made me smile: Humans are simple automatons only responding to price signals. Yeah right.

First we assume a spherical cow and then a dairy-farm makes us run around in great distress.

Some industrial farmer heard "assume a spherical cow..." and said, "wait, tell me more!"

A square cow would be much more efficient. Stackable bovine ftw.

Yeah, but square cows want square hay bales and the round hay bales are far more economical to produce. So round for the win. I think spherical cows would just be showing off.

I think you're actually arguing for cylindrical cows... which, as it happens, is the closest to reality of the options so far presented.

Careful what you say about cows:


Alexander Pope-ism: To err is human, to forgive bovine.

The incredible trajectory of an MR comment thread....... :)

Maybe because our economy is re-orienting around credentials and bureaucracy.

In order to increase the supply of marriageable men, we can:
1. Encourage white middle class men to go to college.
2. Stop putting brown and black men in prison because of the war on drugs.

We have already encouraged investment in college, and now have $1 trillion in student debt. I vote for #2 because I am a cheap bastard.

White middle class men do go to college (for the most part). It's the working class and below where the chasm has opened up.

men desire sex. men no longer need marriage for sex. marriage required men to think about their long-term prospects, now they can get what they want without a long-term commitment.

for women, sex can still lead to childbirth which then forces them to begin thinking about the long-term.

easy access to more sex could be causing long-term problems for men.

easy access to more sex could be causing long-term problems for men.

What's this problem you speak of?

i am quite sure you mean that in jest. i mean who would prefer less sex??!!??

in aggregate, here is what it COULD be doing (certainly speculative as i have no data to back this up):

it reduces value of entering into a long-term marriage partnership which increases likelihood that someone walks away from the responsibility of raising a child. cost of being labeled as a deadbeat has dropped such that being labeled one no longer precludes you from entering spontaneous relationships yielding sex.

i am quite sure you mean that in jest. i mean who would prefer less sex??!!??

Not exactly in jest. If you can play video games, eat fast food and drink beer in your spare time. And have a lot more spare time than you would married, while still obtaining sex; Then what's the problem? Why should a 20 year old male pick a different option? Particularly if he doesn't have a shot at a high paying job.

Once again, there is a difference between what people prefer and what people say (and believe) they prefer. From Prof. Paul Bloom's lecture on sex, available at http://oyc.yale.edu/psychology/psyc-110/lecture-14:

Sex is really strange. You ask people, "What's your favorite activity?" and if you ask people, particularly college students, particularly just fresh from spring break – I've seen teen movies – they'll often answer, "Sex." or some word that is synonymous with sex. But there's a kind of a puzzle about how much time we spend on sex. And it turns out there is data on this. So, people say sex is their favorite activity, but it turns out we actually know how much time the average American spends on sex. And the data I'm going to follow from was summarized in this wonderful book by James Gleick:

Americans tell pollsters their single favorite activity is sex. In terms of enjoyability, they rank sex ahead of sports, fishing, bar-hopping, hugging and kissing, talking with the family, eating, watching television, going on trips, planning trips, gardening, bathing, shopping, dressing, housework, dishwashing, laundry, visiting the dentist, and getting the car repaired. On the other hand, these same studies suggested the average time per day devoted to sex is four minutes and three seconds. [As Gleick says,] This is not much, even if the four minutes excludes time spent flirting, dancing, ogling, cruising the boulevard, toning up in gyms, toning up in beauty parlors, rehearsing pick up lines, showering, thinking about sex, reading about sex, doodling pornographically, looking at erotic magazines, renting videos, dreaming of sex, looking at fashion magazines, cleaning up after sex, coping with the consequences of sex, building towers or otherwise repressing, transferring, and sublimating .

" i mean who would prefer less sex?"

Marriage = less sex?

Met someone when I was counseling (not a client, stop fussing) who was considering marrying a guy who had fathered three kids the year before. Yeah dude, easy access to more sex can cause long freaking term problems for men.

Better porn technology may be a factor in increasing men's choices for sexual satisfaction.

Men never did need to marry to have sex. Back in the good old days the Oldest Profession (which used to be quite legal) flourished selling sex to unmarried men and to married men whose wives were not suitable to their desires.

'How many marriageable men do you think they are?'

Shouldn't that be something like 'there are'? Because pretty much other reading is either nonsensical or amazingly privileged.

Somewhere in all this the feminization of education probably factors in. Elementary and high school principals thirty years ago were almost all men. Today they are almost all women.

Not true - it's about 50% male right now, dropping from about 75%+ twenty years ago. (http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/inside-school-research/2009/07/women_on_par_with_men_in_princ.html)

Doesn't explain why 20-30 year old men now aren't going to college as they all would've gone through K-12 during a time where men held the majority of principal positions. You should spend a little time googling facts instead of making up your own.

75%+ fits with a only somewhat liberal reading of "almost all"... But the proposed explanation does seem ridiculous. "If only for male principals..."

Curious. The principals of the four elementary schools, two middle schools, and two high schools that my children have attended over the last dozen years have been all women. But I see looking at our school district's web site that only ten of its 26 high school principals are women. I didn't guess that my children's eight for eight experience was so improbable.

It's probably highly dependent on the age of the school. Newer schools probably trend heavily toward women principals.

It's possible the genders are correlated with school size, if smaller schools in rural areas are predominantly male run while big suburban schools are predominantly female run the ratio of principals could be 50/50 but the ratio of students who had male/female principals could be quite different. My HS is about 1/10th the size of the average school in Fairfax County.

I wonder if the women are going to college to try to find a better husband than they could get otherwise? Or, perhaps it is easier for parents--- especially a single mother--- to force an unwilling child go to college if the child is a girl.

Easier for parents. Exactly. You can kick boys out of the house at 18, but not girls. Girls have to go somewhere - so, college.

That's a quite good explanation I had not yet considered.

a measurable statistic is this;
at different times and places the average parent likes their
daughter / son
more, ceteris paribus.
Basic sociology.
Guess where we are now?

Roy Baumeister and Kathleen Vohs' social exchange theory of sex -


- might have a word to say on this. In short:

1. It used to be hard to obtain sex without getting married, now it's easy.

2. That has decreased the attraction of men to marriage.

3. The less you are attracted to marriage, the less you are going to invest in marriageability.

4. Earnings is a core dimension of marriageability.

5. Hence one should have expected a decrease of men's earnings as sex and marriage are decopled.

This may be roughly the same that commenters AC and ricardo above meant; I'm not sure. There is an extra twist, though: According to Baumeister and Vohs, women's greater willingness to grant sex is a function of their being less economically dependent on men. This would mean that the increase in women's earnings is a cause of the decrease in men's earnings via decreasing the price of sex. I would add that, as though to intensify these effects, the things women look for in short-term partners have less to do with earnings than the things they look for in long-term partners.

this is a much more eloquent and logical layout of my thought above.

Excellent summary.

I don't know how you get from "being less economically dependent on men" to "greater willingness." If anything I would have expected the reverse ("thank goodness I am no longer economically dependent; now I can stop trading sex for security"). Isn't it more likely that "greater willingness" comes from the (anti-)reproductive technologies that appeared in the 1960s, which in turn led to deferred family formation, thus greater human capital, thus higher wages?

The underlying idea is that women, too, enjoy sex, but will hold back when they see this as advantageous. This depends both on the woman's own economic situation and what the competition does (if the competition is willing to have sex pretty quickly, not giving away the goods any time soon is a bad strategy).

Women enjoy having sex with alphas, and have sex with betas reluctantely for money. If they have their own money & brith control they can have more sex with alphas for free.

"if the competition is willing to have sex pretty quickly, not giving away the goods any time soon is a bad strategy"

Also, if the competition is willing to have sex pretty quickly, there is less to lose reputation-wise for promiscuous women, which may explain, a bit counter-intuitively, why promiscuous women encourage women *in general* to be more promiscuous. It's counter-intuitive in that one might expect one to want their sexual competition to have less not more sex, but since promiscuity in women in itself lowers sexual status, a strategy of convincing your competition to wear their promiscuity on their sleeves increases the relative status of any individual woman. At any rate, it doesn't ruin them for men who are potential providers. A mixed strategy for having sex early as well as later.

Baumeister et al. don't recognize that some men bring an awful lot of sexual attractiveness to the table.

Yeah, I think a weakness of their theory is that they talk too much about "women" and "men" in general and don't think enough about within-gender differences.

Re: 1. It used to be hard to obtain sex without getting married

See my comment above. Men at least needed go no further than the nearest house of ill repute-- and pre-1900 or so they had no fear of legal consequences as such establishments were legal.

One factor not mentioned: before about 1950 it was hard to live alone, unless one was rich enough to employ servants. The daily tasks of life required a great deal of time and effort, and non-wealthy single people often lived with family, or perhaps in boarding houses where the proprietor and her (usually it was a her) servants did much of the drudgery. That's why men needed wives: not for a role in the hay so much as for the housework. Today not so much. Also a factor: entertainment and companionship. You don't need live people so much for that now, what with TV, the Web etc.

"Men at least needed go no further than the nearest house of ill repute– and pre-1900 or so they had no fear of legal consequences as such establishments were legal."

Pre-1900 how many men went to college and what was the alcoholism rate among young men? They didn't have video games then, but they drank a lot of whisky.

Also, I argued above that "the most primitive regions of our brains don’t yet understand how contraception works so getting laid a lot = having kids, in human machine language".

But prostitution has been around a lot longer than the pill.

How much of this "men losing ground" is just a leveling of the playing field?

Not much. Women aren't going into construction, construction jobs are dissappearing. Office work is increasing and fewer men than women are training themselves for those jobs.

On the other hand, I'm a computational physicist and the sex-ratio hasn't changed much in 20 years despite vast effort.

Sure it is. "Levelling the playing field"--what could be more good, more noble, more pure? Unfortunately nobody thought too hard about the consequences so now there's debate and consternation.

Among other things, the expansion of the workforce only drove down wages and women are finding out the playing field was not such a fun place to be after all. They're still the only ones who can get pregnant and most of them, contrary to a few idealized outliers, don't really want to go swim with the sharks so artistic tubby-hubby can stay home and play denmother.

Everybody wants somebody else to pay so nobody has to make hard choices, but this is all happening at the same time a large part of the tax base (men) are concluding that there is really nothing in this deal for them. They are walking away and now all the hens are running around clucking man-up-men, don't-you-see-the-sky-is-falling, who-will-pay-for-my-in-vitro, etc.

It's actually quite hilarious.

"(men) are concluding that there is really nothing in this deal for them."

+1. There's something to this thought. For men it seems marriage is mostly about increased responsibility but without much benefit. Women are generally the king of the household and call the shots on how resources get used. At least that's my perspective from within the families where I have insight. And if it's mostly about sex - I don't think it is, but it's a component - there's generally less sex after marriage than before.

Well... I'm one of those odd folks who didn't have sex before marriage, and my wife (a phenomenally attractive German) was one of those people too. We can safely say that we have more sex now than we did before marriage. Our marriage is still going strong, but if there's anything that gets in our way, it's our difficulty in conceiving. So... what next?

Oh, and a halfway-decent late-30s guy has no trouble attracting young, pretty women. Seriously. I'm fending them off right now. It's ego-boosting but embarrassing.

Our marriage is still going strong, but if there’s anything that gets in our way, it’s our difficulty in conceiving. So… what next?

You go extinct. Or you impregnate one of your wife's younger female relations.

Pity how extinction is the only socially acceptable answer.

Well… I’m one of those odd folks who didn’t have sex before marriage, and my wife (a phenomenally attractive German) was one of those people too. We can safely say that we have more sex now than we did before marriage.

Yeah. But you could have had more sex before marriage then you do now. If you wanted to. That's what everyone is getting at. For some illogical reason you chose not to.


While we find no differences in the discount rates of men and women, we find gender differences in the character of hyperbolic discounting in which women display greater patience in their “present bias.”

Men value sexual access more than money per se, as the Zeng paper that has been posted here demonstrates (although that conclusion should be obvious prima facie). And the returns to wealth accumulation as a pathway to female sexual access have diminished, while an available substitute in the form of internet pornography has proliferated.

Also, college degree vs. no college degree is a false dichotomy. Quality matters a lot. We don't need any more Communications or Cultural Studies majors from Mediocre U.

Girls/women are more conscientious, more neurotic, with better attention spans. Qualities that help with staying in school and getting good grades. They are also more conformist and obedient, and the current Western ethos is that Everyone Should go to College.

Single motherhood is being subsidized, so it should be no surprise that some women opt for it, thus passing on the genes and values of non-provisioning fathers and the women who fancy them to the next generation.

Not directed toward this article, but it's also interesting that the mainstream reaction to men outnumbering women in the STEM fields is screeches for affirmative action, whereas the reaction to women outnumbering men in college degrees is for men to "man up."

so you're saying men now like sex more than power? they are willing to trade a lifetime of crappy jobs for 24-7 Internet porn? I think you are insulting your own gender with what has to be a minor piece of the puzzle.

It's likely men are diverse in this respect.

Trade-offs are not all or nothing.

then how does your logic apply? one question here is why men are not getting more education. maybe a degree is not needed for sex these days (was it before?) but a degree is increasingly important for earning potential, career path. you seem to argue they have less incentive to acquire education and I am not seeing it. men's desire to be in charge should carry as much weight in their decisions. of course, it's not all or nothing ... just was rhetorically more fun to write like that.

The idea is that male primates don't pursue power for its own sake, they pursue it to gain access to females. Would an alpha gorilla want to bother being a troop leader if the job didn't come with sexual access and the opportunity to pass on his genes?

Humans aren't just male primates: they have abilities and understanding even our closest cousins lack. An anthropology that analyzes humans as o more than hairless chimpanzees is off the rails for the start.
One huge reason people (note: not just men) desire power is because they can delude themselves (unconsciously) into thinking that power over others will shield them from death. No other animal is conscious of its own mortality on a permanent basis. That is the most significant fact of human awareness and much of human behavior, including sexual behavior, is the quest to answer death.

I'm pretty sure that most men would want more power and money, ceteris paribus. But the world ain't ceteris paribus: You have to put in lots of work to get money and power. The lower the return, the less inclined you'll be to do it.

"insulting your own gender" = hamsterspeak for don't want to believe this is true, but it probably is.

Look, I am not a hamster, I am an economist :) You will notice that I said Miley's story could be a piece of the puzzle ... just a small one. I think the article in the post raises is a serious issue. I am very concerned about stagnating wages in the bottom half of the distribution and people (men and women) not achieving their full potential. Maybe it's a calculated choice and I should let go of my concerns, but I am not ready to do that yet.

I think that Miley is suggesting that power might be a means, and sex is an end. I'm also skeptical of the porn explanation, but Miley is right that the real explanation must lie in the difference in which men and women respond to today's incentive structure. It's not crazy to examine what exactly young men and women do differently, which includes porn, video games, etc. I also think that we have to assume that we are not in an equilibrium situation, that young women may be riding a female "ambition swell" which is partly a product of their mothers' feminism coupled with a genuine increase of opportunity and access to power. Young, successful women still get to feel like pioneers; young men are instead much more skeptical of the ambition that made their fathers so dreadfully boring and not exactly fulfilled. Everybody talks about "transcending materialism" but I suspect that many young men are actually doing it, reaching their 30s with jobs that allow them to buy Playstations, pizza, beer and dope, which they share with their bros (possibly also their band). Is it so weird to not want more than this? After the "ambition swell" generation, I suspect that many women will also develop a parallel version of this extended adolescence.

For men the question boils down to:
"Is all this work worth the reward?"
The answer increasingly is no. Men are taking their ball and going home and smoking a doob. Luxury is abundant and cheap enough that exerting more energy than necessary isn't producing the marginal gains they used to. Incentives matter.

I also remember a tidbit somewhere about how the men who do want to put in the effort goes where the power and money is. If men are abandoning higher education it is a reflection on the value of higher education more than anything.

Pre-effing-cisely. Work harder to pay more taxes for the old, the lame, the obese, the prisoners needing gender-reassignment surgery, theupkeep of other men's children (welfare is really State-enforced cuckoldry), all while in head-to-head economic competition with prospective spouses.

You can get a lower-stress job, lift weights, play PS3, and end up with more tail than you can chase. All the Arthur Blank-wannabes can knock themselves out and at the end of it all, the ex-wife still leaves with the kids. I foresee the day Tom Friedman or some other ninny gets a real shock in the middle of lecturing about how Americans need to work!, create!, innovate!, harder, harder, HARDER! and the entire audience is female.

Why aren't women following that path too? They aren't some alien species after all. They also pay taxes, work in dead-end jobs with idiot bosses, etc. etc.
And it's not that men are abandoning higher education, they just not entering college in the same increasing percentages that women have been.

JonF - because women are different? And it seems to me they are taking a different path. I notice tons of advertising--condos, for-profit education, cars, financial planning--targeted to single women. My anecdotal impression is also that women consume a lot of psychiatric drugs. Men just check out; women re-double their efforts. How else are you going to pay for overseas travel, current fashion, restaurants, etc.? Obviously I'm painting with a broad brush. Maybe this radical modern experiment works out great.

I can see myself making that choice pretty easily. There's a pretty deep reservoir of us beta/omega guys that are just fine with making it day to day if there's a relationship drought going on. Luckily, I was born before online porn was around, so I had to get an engineering degree instead, which meant eventually, a woman found me late in both of our fertile periods, and life went on. Still, I see myself as easily living within a fairly low lifestyle if born today.

see my comment above.

Shorter MR commenters on issues relating to male underperformance at school/work: Bias! Discrimination! Bureaucracy! Distortions of the market! Impeding cultural factors!

Same commenters on any issue where minorities / immigrants have underperformed or can be blamed: natural differences! Genetics!

Funny, that. Before you play the hypocrisy card, put me down as being a lot more interested in the explanatory power of those first items than the second one, in both situations.

I've noticed the same.

Do you really think this is a fair representation of the comments section so far?

I dunno - I think most of the comments above analyze either gender differences (in ESS, for example) or a wider reading of the non-pecuniary price signals.

Most of the comments here, including mine, point out that men reacting to incentives and that differing dispositions and utility functions between men and women can explain this gap. Not discrimination or "impeding" culture.

But don't let me stop your witch hunt.

The difference is that THERE is no environment where the kinds of minorities you're talking about replicate the kinds of success formerly rarely achieved by white men.

Prior to the 1800s, most of sub-saharan Africa did not have the wheel.

Please provide a citation to prove your intriguing statement "Prior to teh 1800's most of ..."

Might be easier to prove the converse. So, your turn.

Sorry, I am more of a lurker than an actual contributer of ideas/thoughts/opinions.


Are you suggesting that the genes of "men" have changed recently? There have in fact been some comments regarding that above. However, I think such an explanation is relatively implausbile given the short time frames involved. Which is rather tdifferent than when considering the length of time over which different genetic populations evolved.

There are indications that rapid evolution can occur. Not saying that is occurring - it's more likely a rational adaptation imho - but if this is broadly true over a few generations we could see quick shifts in species due to this trend.


IF the article were written as:

"'I think the greatest, most astonishing fact that I am aware of in social science right now is that African-Americans and Hispanics have been able to hear the labor market screaming out ‘You need more education’ and have been able to respond to that, and those minorities have not,” said Michael Greenstone, an M.I.T. economics professor who was not involved in Professor Autor’s work. “And it’s very, very scary for economists because people should be responding to price signals. And blacks and Hispanics are not. It’s a fact in need of an explanation.'"

Most economists agree that blacks and Hispanics have suffered disproportionately from economic changes like the decline of manufacturing. But careful analyses have found that such changes explain only a small part of the shrinking wage gap.'"

you would see a ton of commenters here trying to justify that status quo on genetic lines, saying it simply reflected natural ability, we shouldn't try to correct it, it's not in fact problematic, trying to fix it is unjust, it would go against this or that underlying biological factor, etc. etc. You know which commenters I'm talking about- many of them are in this thread. The starting position of the discussion would *not* be "we need to fix this", and there would not be general tone of disapproval or concern like it is with many of the other comments.

If you think social constructs or changes thereof can be harmful to men, you shouldn't be so dismissive of the possibility that they are when it comes to race, culture, nationality, social class, etc. But many people here want to have it both ways, in a manner that just happens to work out well for who they are.

...and vice-versa.

If you read the comments carefully you will see that most of them are explainging why these findings should not be a surprise. I have seen very few demands for addressing this through laws or indoctrination.

"If you think social constructs ... can be harmful to men". That is not the point, is it? Most commenters here likely will agree that monogamy and marriage are highly artificial constructs that are now collapsing because of an unwillngness to sustain them. This is not dissimilar from saying that limiting immigration of low IQ persons through border controls etc is an artificial construct as well, and should be advocated.

I agree. Welfare in particular strikes me as dysgenic. So were the two world wars.

Does this break down the same for whites & AAs? It seems to me like lower income AA males are doing especially badly, which is a shame.

I wonder how much of this is simply a reorganization of the family. If women have higher returns to education and work (which, given my experience in corporations, seems likely to me) it might often make sense for men to increasingly take jobs that focus more on home and family life, jobs that women typically took in the fairly distant past. It might well be that decisions on who will be the "bread winner" have developed more evenly split answers.
I would guess that if household income is staying on a fairly consistent path but women's incomes are increasing, those women's husbands would have the opposite trend, and likely due to the above.

Thank you!

But science shows that such marriages are unhappier and lead more often to divorce.:



I blame video games... well, at least to explain my own decidedly non-go-getter life trajectory!

Only slightly more serious comment: In a world where women quickly got a whole lot more attractive as a group, and these attractive women have a "floor" below which they won't date, wouldn't the economist predict that men would adopt the strategy of rising just above this floor and lack the incentives to go up much further? Many articles have been written about the distorted dating market, especially in cities, where there is such a surplus of awesome, educated women that any reasonably attractive guy with a college degree doesn't have to work hard at all to impress them. Is it any wonder, then, that these men get "less industrious"?

But I guess the point is that if the rules are so clear for men - rise above the dating floor and enjoy the bounty of awesome women - why don't more men actually do it? I'm guessing that information is a part of the problem. These changes have been fast and men haven't caught on yet. Some of us may be pursuing outdated strategies, or strategies that work, but only for youthful dating.

If women don't date down and feminism has the whole society geared towards closing the wage gap and putting women into the boardroom, etc., and every place men succeed and have higher wages is a sign of discrimination, how can men rise up? If men rose up and dominated, they would be attacked for running a sexist firm/industry.

Also, women don't like men who rise up, they like providers or bad boys. Once the state steps in to guarantee female employment or subsidies taken from other men, the providers are just boring. Bad boys FTW.

What do you mean "got more attractive as a group"? The obesity rate is skyrocketing, nationally obesity rates are 14% higher for women than men. Women are getting less attractive physically, but more financially "attractive", except that men aren't that attracted to money.

I'm enjoying this discussion quite a bit. Your point is excellent, but I think furthermore it's possible that men aren't as attracted to more successful women. Maybe it's not so much about finding the dating floor - but guys not wanting to break through the dating ceiling. I can't cite links, but relationship of successful female and average Joe guy probably aren't that great - but vice-versa seems to function acceptably.

That is a whole other phenomenon, I was just taking issue with David H.'s characterization of women's increasing financial achievement as making them "more attractive". Simple fact is, men aren't hardwired to seek out power and financial provision in a mate. They want youth and beauty. Now, an attractive woman is attractive regardless of income, but having it certainly doesn't improve her, and in fact may hurt her. You can interpret that as women being stupid or men being insecure, whichever is more palatable, but them's the facts.

Well said.

The fact that those women and their friends describe themselves as "awesome", does not mean that they are awesome. As a young man, I couldn't care less about a woman's awesome carrer and her awesome education.

Actually, most of the time, I find them to be really spoiled entitled kiddults, who think that their make-work paper pusher government job and the Master's in "Queer Basket Weaving" (with $75000 debt) make them a pillar of the community and a really good catch for a man.

I think there's a convention among women to describe all their friends in glowing terms, even the ones they hate. I don't really understand it. Every woman I speak to will swear on a stack of bibles all her friends are "gorgeous". Not, "oh Kim is pretty hot, Jamie is ok, and Sam is really nice, but looks like she was hit by a bus". Nope, every last one of them is a seven or better, to hear their friends tell it.

Hmmm....40 years of feminism....what can be the explanation? We need moar studiez!

You think feminism started in 1973? You're off by a hundred years.

40 years of feminism being the ruling ideology.

No one find impressive that even with women having much more education than men, their earnings are still below?

Maybe somehow discrimination made the marginal value of a degree bigger for women than men

Their earnings are actually higher after you strip out confounding variables, like wanting to have and raise children.

Insert citation to any of the Labor department studies here. There is no statistically significant difference between actual total compensation when adjusted for job experience, time off, ability, and the other relevant factors. The "Wage Gap" is a statistical artifact made by comparing two things that are not the same. When you properly control the variables, shocker, it disappears.

Could it have something to do with college not being worth what it used to be?

Today if you go to college you are likely to come out of it with a house worth
of debt. And, you will still need a house.

Furthermore, many previously worthwhile degrees are largely worthless. Try
getting a job with a liberal arts degree or even a management degree
(that isn't from Harvard.) Even law degrees stink these days with something
like half of new lawyers being unable to find a job.

The best degrees seem to fall into a few broad categories. Technically difficult
STEM degrees, which honestly not everyone is cut out for. Basically, they are
too hard for many people. Degrees that prepare you for health care like nurse. And,
degrees that prepare you for government employment like social worker.

Reconsider those usefull degrees. Basically, two thirds of them are traditionally
female occupations, while the STEM degrees are probably out of reach intellectually
for at least half the population.

While it may be unfair, not just guys but many women too will look down on a male nurse. So a guy
better hope he is good at math, or his available choices range from mediocre to bad to worse.

STEM (at least the S part of it) ain't the meal ticket it used to be. A BS in chemistry qualifies you for a $32k/yr job as a lab tech with little path for career advancement. Even Ph.D research jobs aren't what they used to be (ask all the synthetic organic chemists who used to have jobs before Big Pharma cut their R&D operations).

I've read half of this thread, and really steve's comment was what occured to me first. I was really surprised by the sexual politics direction the thread took. Compared to the recent past, college is a less attractive investment for both sexes. The real price has gone up and the returns have gone down (it was formerly a ticket to middle class jobs and now it confers a sort of license to apply to middle class jobs). OK, men may be catching on to this before women do but this stuff can be overanalyzed, either men are going to catch on first or women are going to catch on first.

The only other interesting comment I've seen was Tarrou's that obesity rates among women have gone up faster than among men in the US (I've not checked on this but it does confirm what I've seen). In which case men would find pursuing women less attractive because pursuing women is less attractive.

While it may be unfair, not just guys but many women too will look down on a male nurse.

Based on what a few male nurses have told me about pay, hours, and job mobility, it seems it is male nurses who made much better career choices than male doctors. YMMV.

If my son told me he was considering medical school, I would strongly encourage him to look at nursing instead. He can still earn a good living without as much formal schooling and its accompanying debt and opportunity costs, and later he can always become a Physician's Assistant or Nurse Practitioner. Or go back to medical school.

Rather than college right out of high school, more kids should try setting up a small or micro business or learning a trade. You can always go back to school if you really want to get or need a degree. But then we'd have to reorient more high schools and parents from thinking that "going to college" is the be and end all of high school.

At my wife's hospital a huge swath of the managment was made up of former male nurses.

Male nurses are better over all at the job, and as a patient oft times having a male nurse gives me a higher sense of security and well being. Good advice.

Funny, I go to the local hospitals quite often due to my aged parents. I just don't see all these male nurses you guys are talking about. Maybe it is a regional thing. I live in the midwest.

How many licensed registered nurses are there in the U.S.?

• There are 2,909,357 licensed registered nurses in the United States.

Men are what percentage of the total nursing population?

• Approximately 168,181 RNs are men – only 5.8% of the total nursing population.

Source: http://www.minoritynurse.com/minority-nursing-statistics

How many marriageable men do you think they are

A quick typo alert: I think "they are" is supposed to be "there are."

Well, there you go, Tyler: you presented a "puzzle" and your commenters gave you the solution, abundantly. Something tells me this will continue to puzzle you nonetheless.

Brazenly dishonest post.

I am very happy TC does exactly this. This is one of the few mainstream sites where subjects like this can even be discussed. Notice that many of the pseudonymous commenters here are at risk of losing their positions or jobs just for writing these thoughtcrimes.

Hadn't thought of it that way: that's one hell of a bank shot!

>>>And what are the other women supposed to do?”

Very interesting... this whole topic reminds one of the actually quite brutal struggle to find a mate and reproduce, in the Darwinian sense (survival is not as much as an issue, but reproduction still is).
Women are indeed faced with some difficult choices. If their increased educational and work opportunities mean less chances to find and hold a good mate, what, indeed, are they to do? If they do not avail themselves of the new opportunities, they may still not find a good mate, and may have a worse quality of life.

It certainly seems like there are developments that, while good for individuals, have not been assimilated into the whole evolutionary schema, and which may turn out to be bad overall.

The much-lauded liberation of female "choice" -- choice in sexual partners, reproductive choice, career choice, "lifestyle" choice, choice of social support services from the government -- over the last generation is now a fixture of Western civilization.

The moral force behind this female empowerment is the extent to which it represents returning to individual females their sovereignty.

What about male individual sovereignty?

Under natural law the ultimate power -- the power that shapes the future -- of female individual sovereignty is the choice of which genes make it into the next generation and that power is exercised through birth.

Under natural law the ultimate power of male individual sovereignty is the choice of that which is to be killed in single combat.

Civilization is founded on a meta-stable "deal" in which females give up their individual sovereignty to their mates and their mates give up their individual sovereignty to the State. If, in this scenario, you liberate only one sex, not only does civilization collapse, but until it does, the circumstances are unbearable to the sex not liberated.

In Western civilization there is no going back to the age of females giving up their individual sovereignty to their mates, so Western civilization is ending and we are left with two choices:

Figure out how to legitimize formal individual combat to the death between males, or adopt Islam.

That's a true dilemma.

I'd reckon that with current weaponry women would have little trouble killing people so why is this "right" reserved for men? Only hand-to-hand combat is natural?

Natural meaning just putting the two disputants out in the wilderness with one to return. It doesn't imply "hand-to-hand combat". Dependence on "hand-to-hand combat" would be a disadvantage in such a setting.


Civilization is built on the pretense that husbands are alpha males so that they don't revolt against those in positions of authority. The 60s exploded that pretense leaving the glass ceiling protecting those positions of authority as the real alpha males surrounding themselves by de facto harems. It has take decades, but the consequences are now coming home to roost in the form of high fertility rates among patriarchal immigrant cultures. Islam is the the likely beneficiary since it dispenses with the hypocrisy surrounding de facto harems and formally sanctions harem sizes limited to a maximum of 4 females.

No one wants to even consider what the counterpart to female liberation might be. But consider this: A female's godhood is exercised when she chooses which genes will pass through her to the next generation. A male's godhood is exercised when he chooses which other male he will meet in a natural duel to prevent his genes from passing into the next generation -- or die trying.

If males are liberated, the glass ceiling would be shattered along with all positions of authority.

Human ecology is as fragile as natural ecology. Admonishment doesn't really matter when the cause of an ecological disaster is grounded in something like biophysics and those doing the admonishing have no clue as to the causal structure they are trying to affect. Here's a clue: In nature, males and females have two respective powers: To destroy and to preserve. People think that civilization is founded on control of destruction and seem to forget that civilization also depends on controlling female power to preserve. With the return to females of choice, hence their power, something equivalent must be done for males, such as enforcing natural duels to the death (natural meaning just putting the two disputants out in the wilderness with one to return). Of course, no one can face that this is the logical consequence of female liberation, so civilization slowly transforms into something unrecognizable except, perhaps, to the eusocial insects and their negation of sex.

Atavistic African instincts, present in nascent form in all of us to one degree or another, override rational reflection:

The State as hyper-polygynous alpha male. The mate as sneaky beta male. Female “independence”.

Let the State, nay civilization itself, and His protections and provisions truly wither away and things will change fast.

This is the real reason Islam is such a threat: It is the only religion truly sexist and, realistic enough about polygyny to contain its worst manifestations emerging in a civilization that includes Africans or others with a predisposition toward polygyny.

This is an interesting blog post on one woman's journey out of journalism--compensation is a significant factor (though not the only), and it also touches on marriage: http://allysonbird.com/2013/03/19/why-i-left-news/

I wouldn't underestimate men. I see almost no women studying physics, math, EE, CS etc (the hard stuff). At my university they make like 5% of students.

On top of that there's, in my experience, a high drop out rate among female Electrical engineers. Even the relatively few that make it through school, don't like the 50 hour average weeks and extended periods of travel.

Right. How many women want to date such men?

I don't know what this has to do with anything I said.

Trying to figure out how to make men more attractive? On MR? Excuse me until my laughter dies down a little. It's an interesting question but I don't expect good answers from the emotional cripples who frequent this blog.

Look a few posts down where you will find dozens of snarky comments about biases amongst economists and one response to the beautiful and moving video of Marina Abamowicz and Ulay.

I read this blog regularly, partly to gain a somewhat broader understanding of economics ( I run a small but international business) and partly to try to figure out why psychopaths have such great influence in the USA. I'm getting somewhere with the first goal but the second question is still a mystery.

Oh now, why not ask here? I am not representative of the commenters...in fact, I am trying (unsuccessfully) to self-deport from comments here since I have said some not nice things I regret. I did like the video and tweeted it this morning...saving my slip-up comments for economics.

Now I think given the discussion in the comments, there is a reason to ask here can make men "more attractive" ... in a financial stability kind of way for marriage? Many of the commenters above point to biological or cultural reasons why men are checking out. I have found it useful to learn about these hypotheses...a little shocked as someone who did a labor field and took population/demography course in my PhD studies that I have never heard much about this. Still I don't buy it (agree more with the article) and even if my ambition as a woman is socially destructive men should be able to figure out a new way forward. I would not expect (and have been told not to expect) much empathy and emotional nuance here, but I don't think that's needed. It's nearly irrational not to invest in your education more than you would have a generation ago and yet men are not getting more education. I hear a lot of excuses here, but not much in the way of solutions. Seems a perfect place to pose the question to me.

It’s nearly irrational not to invest in your education more than you would have a generation ago and yet men are not getting more education.

I don't understand this. Why is it irrational for men to choose the video game playing and partying with friends vs working harder. The rewards for working harder have diminished in a more competitive job market and the penalties for slacking have also diminished. The choice seems both rational and obvious.

The lifetime consumption paths are dramatically lower and less stable without education. There used to be good jobs for men in the mills or factories that did not require a college degree. The world has changed, those jobs are gone and that change alone should push men to get more education than in the past. The financial penalties (incl. the opportunity costs) for slacking are much higher now.

The financial penalties (incl. the opportunity costs) for slacking are much higher now.

How are the financial penalties higher? There are a great many young guys, 19 to 35, who are perfectly content to drink some alcohol, play video games, surf the net, download 'free' movies/music/other and hang with their friends. You can easily manage that lifestyle on very little income. Diversions are much cheaper and the job market is more difficult.

So the choice is rational and predictable that a pretty large segment of the populace will choose to finally to take up Timothy Leary's famous advice.

Sure, men who slack off will make less money, no one ever disputed that. But from an evolutionary perspective, that doesn't matter so much now that women are financially independent.

Work and education are not just about money. They are also important components of life satisfaction, good health and stability. Men may be more risk tolerant than women, but most people balk at their standard of living being jerked around by shocks. Education and marriage have important insurance properties that I suspect anyone would value...hard to believe these evolutionary motives are that powerful.

To parse things a bit, It seems marriage isn't as appealing to educated guys either. But I could be making that part up.

Education and marriage have important insurance properties that I suspect anyone would value…

I think it likely that most people do value them, but evidence would indicate that contemporary women value them more than contemporary men do.

"evidence would indicate that contemporary women value them more than contemporary men do."

Evidence, really? I am one of those rare economists who is not too taken with revealed preference arguments. (An oddity that comes from working on a lot of direct preference measures.) I suspect there is an important institutional or 'budget constraint' issue that is impacting men more and getting them 'off track.' Sure there are some on their path by full choice and awareness, but I bet that's the minority. It would be like the Chicago-style argument that all the unemployed are voluntarily so...just doesn't add up for me though it may describe a small minority. [Ok but now I will be quiet...totally blowing my MR diet today.]

Work and education are not just about money. They are also important components of life satisfaction, good health and stability.

Personally, I agree with you on this, but I have learned over that last few years that people who think as we do are actually pretty rare. For most people, the job that they do is just a job, and if they didnt have to do it in order to live (e.g. by winning the lottery) they wouldnt do it any more.

Men may be more risk tolerant than women, but most people balk at their standard of living being jerked around by shocks.

True again, but the people who actually act on that opinion are generally high IQ people who can delay gratification and plan well for their future. Again, rare.

Education and marriage have important insurance properties that I suspect anyone would value…hard to believe these evolutionary motives are that powerful.

Education is only a safety net if you choose the right field. Get a Masters in Gender Studies for example, and all you have done is wasted several years of your life and racked up a huge debt all while learning no genuinely useful skills and giving yourself no job getting credentials. And for men, marriage could only be called a safety net if it doesnt end in divorce, which happens more than half the time. And if divorce does happen, for most men that generally results in a giant anchor around their neck.

link to the video did not work very well. I watched it, it seemed to be fairly cold-hearted - if they liked each other, why not share a few words? share a kiss? go dancing? Laugh? Embrace?
The explanation I read was that they felt their relationship had run its course. And she (the artist?) was playing some aristocratic staring game with non-artists. So sad. I really really hope that I am missing something.
Also, I disagree with most posters on most issues herein, but I am old enough to know that there is no such thing as an "emotional cripple", there are only people in various degrees of pain and distance from God. Very hard to judge those parameters from a post on an economics blog.

this was my take-away from the video: https://twitter.com/Claudia_Sahm/status/314327976491769856 reminded me why conversations are so hard here without the nonverbal. though this type of thread suggest there may be upsides to flatter conversations among strangers too. I agree the arc of their story is not uplifting, but it was amazing to watch them 'talk.'

I remember when girls at school were behind boys and the response was "The system is discriminating against girls - we need to change it". This led to a change of emphasis from exams to continuous assessment and loads of work on finding role models and making sure subjects were framed in terms that girls could relate to and studies on what forms of encouragement would motivate them better and so on. Now boys are behind and the response I'm hearing is "we have a problem with boys slacking off. They'd better shape up". This response seems less likely to produce change.

eggs are expensive, sperm is cheap. every psychological dynamic you see playing out in mass society flows from this premise. this means, women are coddled, men are upbraided. women are victims, men are victimizers. women need a leg up, men need to man up.

it is what it is, but let's not pretend, like the usual suspects in this thread, that there's some high ground to stake out by moralizing a crass organically emergent biological phenomenon.

It's not eggs that are expensive, it's buying time in a uterus

Actually, you don't have to be earning the top $$$ - or even more than me - to be marriagable material as far as I'm concerned. The older I get, the more I think 'hey, I don't want to quit work, where can I find a guy to stay home and raise my kids'? And you know what? There is a complete dearth of reasonably educated, kind, interesting men who want to stay home and raise kids. Just as (as you have pointed out) there is a dearth of men who can afford to pay for me to do it.

So I have to do the whole lot myself. And you lot have the balls to say that family is a win-win-win for me? F*#& you.

There is NO REASON that men can't stay home with kids - some studies suggest children actually do better in that environment (primarily because men who go out to work don't spend time with their kids when they are at home, but women do).

But men are scared of doing that, even if they want to - as you can see from all the little boy whining going on above. 'We can't handle not being given power automatically, please protect us from the feminists or society will implode...'.

Sorry guys, the field has changed. I don't need someone who is going to hunt down and kill my prey for me anymore. I don't need an over-hormoned teenager on a killing spree. I need a grown-up man, who is willing to face ALL of lives challenges, not just the ones he thinks are fit to be taken on my his oh-so-manly self.

THAT is why its hard to "date down". Because dating down means dating little boys who still won't compromise, who still won't put their family first, and who still won't do the hard yards. But they can't afford to pay me to do it either.

Well said.

On this blog, there are plenty of reasonably educated (for a narrow and academic definition of "educated") men. How many of them are willing to accept that their ejaculations (magnificent in frequency and volume though they may be) might lead to an obligation to stay home and raise kids?

Try losing some weight.

ever the moderate, I think there is a middle ground to find. work is more than a paycheck for many it's an important part of self. it is a big deal to ask someone to give up their work and make themselves dependent financially on another person. one of my many mistakes in an altogether nice marriage was being more successful at my job than my husband was at his. I had a chance to relocate for a new job for him and effectively give up working (I'm one of those overly educated, narrowly employable types) and I balked. if I knew then what I know now I probably would have gone. marriage is full of trade offs but it offers a lot too. cultural norms may not be 'right' in some egalitarian sense, but we are fooling ourselves to believe they don't impact us.

Thank you! I love reading this blog for both its content and the comments, but the comments on this one had me laughing. It's your life, do what you like with it. Anything meaningful in life has to be worked for and if young men find playing video games and spreading their seed meaningful, good on them. I think things may change when these younglings age and confront the loneliness of middle/old age without their "bros" and no family of their own. In the same way that many modern fathers try to spend more time with their children because of their own distant fathers, I think the next generation of men will continue to re-learn that compromise with women (in the most general sense) makes life better, not worse. Smart men learn this early and are happier for it. Most women aren't out to screw men over, most of us want a nice man to work through life with. My husband is my best friend. Our marriage is that extended "conversation" -- we share the burdens and joys of life -- it's not really that complicated, nor is it perfect. Whatever the evolutionary psych take on male/female relationships, I still believe in love and happiness. Which sounds naive as hell and probably is -- so there. =P

good point about "distant parents" of the previous generation and
what you see as the failures of the "younglings" who do not strike you as "smart" alpha males. Your definition of alpha males is not bad, by the way, but
If you have a son some day, he is, by the law of averages, not likely to be an alpha male, so try
not to be so judgmental towards the poor little guy.
Or better yet, ignore everything everyone on this blog says and read the Book of Proverbs (something I guess you have already done)

The African-American community is the canary in the coal-mine.

You can divorce a man at any time, for any reason, and you will get the kid(s). The only way for you to lose custody is to snort crack in front of the judge. You will be able to completely prevent the kids' father from seeing them, while the State will make sure that he pays child support. Did he lose his job? Tough luck, he will go to jail, while child support debts keep racking up. He gets out of jail, can't pay, goes back to jail, and so on. Of course, you will be seen as a hero single mother, and he as a deadbeat abuser.

As a young man, I'm doing my best to AVOID marriage. I've seen plenty of men getting screwed by divorce, because she... just got bored.

PS: The older you get, the harder will be for you to make a kid, The older you get, less attractive you will be for a man close to your age.

Oh good, the evidence that marriage is a lousy prospect has arrived

Have fun with your cats

If you're using the phrase "the older I get", you're probably not the woman we're going for.

Sorry, but "Woman", does not speak for me, or anyone I've ever known. I'm a college educated woman who worked in accounting meh. I wanted a family, but that didn't happen. My husband & I married 23 yrs ago.Pre marriage and post marriage income was slightly above DH, But my desire was to encourage and support him in his career. That meant leaving work and working on creating a home he would WANT to come home to each evening. Besides the very good intimate times we have often, the RESPECT I give him daily, the home I've created is Well worth any economic shortfalls. The relationship we share is never 50/50 It's not a contract.. it's a Marriage, so it's other centered, not "what's in it for me". You all have mentioned everything but love. I think, based on what I've read and hear, the love of many have grown cold. I respect and love my man, he loves me and lives with me in understanding,he does well in his field as far as compensation goes. He rocks. He does not waste time on video games either! Yes, a guy with a steady job is desirable for many regular gals who actually want a lifetime spouse who they can have a life with. High earners who are never home and love porn? please spare us.
PS I agree feminism has come home to roost,reaping what was sown
are so many men SO afraid now that they can't take back what's been stolen, or you don't care?

There is a complete dearth of reasonably educated, kind, interesting men who want to stay home and raise kids.

Getting an education just to stay home and raise kids is a waste. Most men who go to the trouble of educating themselves dont want to have wasted their time.

So I have to do the whole lot myself. And you lot have the balls to say that family is a win-win-win for me? F*#& you.

You dont have to do the whole thing yourself. You could always choose to stay home with the kids, assuming of course that you have the necessary attributes to attract a man who can support you in that goal.

There is NO REASON that men can’t stay home with kids – some studies suggest children actually do better in that environment (primarily because men who go out to work don’t spend time with their kids when they are at home, but women do).

There was at least one recent study that showed that women are less likely to be attracted to men who do so called "womens work". And lack of attraction leads to women not being haaaaaappy, and unhaaaaappiness leads to divorce. And divorce leads to ruin. (If youre a man that is). Thats a pretty good reason for men to not stay home with the kids. Not all women are this way of course, but given the risk to men in divorce I can see why many men dont want to take the risk.

But men are scared of doing that, even if they want to – as you can see from all the little boy whining going on above. ‘We can’t handle not being given power automatically, please protect us from the feminists or society will implode…’.

I'll admit, being some cranky aging ballbusters kitchen bitch is a bit of a scary prospect...

Sorry guys, the field has changed. I don’t need someone who is going to hunt down and kill my prey for me anymore. I don’t need an over-hormoned teenager on a killing spree.

This changed field you speak of is only temporary. Feminism is expensive, and western society is damn near broke. We wont be able to keep paying the equality tab for too much longer.

I need a grown-up man, who is willing to face ALL of lives challenges, not just the ones he thinks are fit to be taken on my his oh-so-manly self.

And what precisely do you have to offer such a man? High quality marriage minded men are in short supply these days, and aging, combative career women who have no interest in raising children is not what they are after.

THAT is why its hard to “date down”. Because dating down means dating little boys who still won’t compromise, who still won’t put their family first, and who still won’t do the hard yards. But they can’t afford to pay me to do it either.

Please. Hypergamy is why its hard for women to date down. Its the way women have always been and feminism is not about to change it.

Ma'am, If you read my "win-win-win" comment with a modicum of charity, you'll realize that what I said doesn't disagree with you at all. But your operative term is "the older I get". Now, now that your prime years of appearance and childbearing are behind you, now that you've had unfettered access to males of your own choosing (whatever number and quality that may be), now you'd like a steady mate. This is not necessarily wrong, in fact it is the stereotypical male life arc. But your complaint that now, in your (whatever your age may be)s there aren't men lining up to give you the family you always wanted ignores the years when that wasn't important to you. You were not willing to sacrifice freedom and sexual novelty in your prime years, and now you are upset that men will not sacrifice those same perks in theirs.

Family is a triple win for you, just look at your own writing. You are furious that no one is giving you that triple win. And what I am saying, is that men aren't the same as women, and women who act like men are not as attractive as they could be. The field has changed, you are right. But biology hasn't, and won't, not in any reasonably short time frame. Maybe men should be looking for women like you, if they were rational beings, but we aren't. And even rationally, the risk of marriage ending in divorce, with the subsequent loss of children and assets, prices marriage beyond what some men (this is where I am) are willing to pay.

The thing is, we all know the carrot and stick necessary to get men to commit for life. We just aren't willing to use them in our modern society.

What are your thoughts regarding oral sex?

sorry, replied to wrong post. stupid software.

"There is a complete dearth of reasonably educated, kind, interesting men who want to stay home and raise kids"

Maybe instead of looking for what women have always looked for in a bread winner (minus the bread). Look for what men have been looking for in a stay at home wife. Forget the education, look for cooking skills, a work ethic, kind, pleasant (not necessarily interesting, I mean you will have heard it all after a couple of years anyway.) and if you make good money you can stretch for young and handsome by spending some of that money on him. (Don't sweat it. It's standard practice for men.)

I would recommend going to some cooking, dancing classes or something and deliberately looking for guys with crappy jobs. Don't mention the whole will you raise my children thing chances are he will say no. But, when the time comes, he will do the calculations and decide he would rather not be poor.

What a whiny bitch. Yeah your life is so hard. You're a bitter aging hag who can't find her prince charming who meets your 50 point feminut checklist. I can't imagine why you're still single.

The decline in the fortunes of men and the decline of marriage are the fruit of Republican and especially conservative Republican policies.

Nixon waged a war on crime which sought to make more men criminals.
Reagan had his war on drugs which sought to make more men criminals.
Republicans and conservatives made making more and more men criminals and locking them up and throwing away the key a virtue for the betterment of scoety.

So, with the US being the global leader in putting men in prison, and the global leader in men with criminal records, is it a surprise that men have suffered economically in the past quarter century.

Furthermore, conservatives have made holding a violation of the law, no matter how minor, no matter how minor, a reason to deny a man a job.

And conservatives have constantly sought to make more things crimes, until they finally realized that being tough on crime is costly and big government. Even when prisons abandon any pretense of rehabilitation to save money, prisons are still too costly, so finally conservatives are considering eliminating some crimes as reasons to put people in prison on the taxpayer dole, but they still fight to make those men unemployable by a zero tolerance of pot smoking while happily accepting drinking as the manly thing.

Why Milton Friedman and libertarians support Republicans is a mystery because Republicans are in favor of big government dictating how man must think in ways that ensure lots of men end up criminals, especially men who engage in free market trade.

I am not an american so, as an outsider, the way I see the US politics is like:

Democrats: more privileges for women
Republicans: more obligations for men

Democrats: let's censor this to protect the children
Republicans: let's censor this to fight terrorism

and so on... In the end, they're the same.

There are obviously more nuances than what you state. However, the criticism that the parties, when judged by their actions not their rhetoric, are functionally pretty similar has a lot of merit.

I see a lot of thoughtful analysis on this sobering statistic, but what I don't see is nuance. Can we have some demographic break down into this? Age cohort? Race? Region? I suspect that there are a variety of factors driving this for different subsets of men.

The short answer is that men of low to average cognitive ability with shorter time horizons respond more powerfully to these changes in the sexual market. The most intelligent men, those of high education, middle class whites and Asians, who are better equipped to defer gratification and plan for the future resist these changes somewhat better. This is why marriage rates among the upper classes are still relatively high.

But the change is coming even at the top end. Almost everyone who reads or posts comments on this blog belongs to a rarefied cognitive elite and judging by the discussion here a good many male readers favor dropping out of the marriage racket.

+1, yes that's a reasonable synopsis. I'm not sure it's true, but it seems to fit the facts best. Though I, like BL, would like to see some better data.

Many hard working ambitious men are wired to chase their personal ambitions without channeling that through the institution of academia and credentials. Females have a naturally better psychological fit for today's university model than men.

The fact that a "marriageable man" is considered one who earns an excellent salary independently speaks to a continuing double standard. If a woman quits her job and is supported by her husband, no one thinks twice. But if a man does the same, he's stigmatized as a loser. The advancement of women in the workplace over the past 40 years is laudable, but the story has continually been (particularly in the popular media) about how smart and competent women are, and how stuck-in-the-past and unwilling to adapt to change men continue to be. If a woman succeeds in the workplace, it's a gigantic victory; if a man does, it's par for the course. I wonder if these perceptions, while not really scientifically measurable, affect the psyche of today's boys a little bit and tell them they're not valued, while reinforcing the feeling of older men that they're hopelessly obsolete and lack futures?

Among my peers of 30-something yuppies, a woman quitting her job to raise kids for longer than one year would be frowned upon, even if hubby's salary is more than adequate to pay for the whole family.

Somehow, outsourcing child care is seen as more dignified.

There is actually a fair bit of Feminist pressure for women to focus on their career rather than relationships and family, regardless of what thise women might actually prefer.

But yes, I am sure that boys are picking up on how they are being treated, and that its causing no small amount of resentment. Havent you noticed the shaming articles in the media over the last few years about young men staying at home, showing a general lack of enthusiasm about career, playing too many video games and generally not "manning up"? This is what happens when you demoralise young men and remove their reason to strive and be productive members of society. Why should young men today contribute to maintaining and building a society that offers them nothing worth having in return?


The answer is simple. "trophy husbands"

I'm quite surprised that this "solution" is not catching on.

Solution #2. Lesbianism and a sperm donor.

solution #3. Polygamy: They can all marry those few guys that meet their expectations.
And, legalized prostitution to keep the remaining men from killing everybody.

“How many marriageable men do you think there are? And what are the other women supposed to do?”

If we think of marriage in the traditional sense-- an obligation imposed on everyone by society as part of the process of creating the next generation, then the answer is easy-- they are supposed to marry the other men, anyway.

"help make men more attractive."

Or make women less liscentious?

Shrug. Women had a lot of ground to make up, and their tendency to be more risk-averse has really paid off since 2007.

OTOH men still dominate the top 10%. We have more testosterone.

As for marriage, the problem there is that women and men aren't interested in the same things -- men seek status to attract women and are attracted to physical beauty, women are attracted to high status and seek physical beauty. Women chasing high status are not pursuing a successful mating strategy, similar to men who obsess over their appearance but have low status.

It's difficult for a woman to be with a man she perceives as lower status than her. When you raise the average status of women, you make this problem worse.

If we could legally use our money to fuck young girls, motivation would look different. As for marriage, if you want to throw your freedom and money away, be my guest.

Brutally honest. I couldn't agree more.

A teacher in China drew 5 men and 5 women stick figures. She drew a line from the top man to the 2nd women, 2nd man to third, and so on. The top woman the and bottom man were left out. This is common sense in China. I also saw a tweet going around weibo (from memory): if you want be married with 2 kids at 30 you need to have the first kid at age 26 (to space them). If you want to be married at 26 you need to be engaged by 25. If you want to be engaged by 25, you need to find a good boyfriend by 23. If you want to find a good boyfriend by 23, you need to start thinking about marriage at 21. American society tells women they should they not even think of marriage at that young an age, rather they should go to work and earn money to......well, not to make them more attractive to men, since they're at their peak attractiveness at 21. What's the plan? To be independent? Well, someone focused on independence would be a man, right? And single men have always been less into marriage than single women.

TCCC: "That is from a very excellent article by Binyamin Applebaum, on why men are (along some but not all margins) losing economic ground, especially below the ranks of the top earners."

what you are seeing in motion is the institutionalizing of female hypergamy and de facto polygamy. the omega and beta males are slowly getting weeded out from the acceptable mate pool, while the top 20% alpha males (or top 1%) are hoarding the female sexual wealth (if not yet their procreative wealth). men don't like this. women may not like this, but their policy and lifestyle preferences are surely helping this antediluvian sexual market system consolidate.

"Instead of making marriage more attractive, he [Christopher Jencks] said, it might be better for society to help make men more attractive."

game. not kidding.

"As I once asked Bryan Caplan,"

beep boop. first mistake.

“How many marriageable men do you think there are?"

how many incentives are there?

"And what are the other women supposed to do?”

lose weight.

Since getting married is a FEMALE goal and favors women, the better question is why are women losing ground?

This is more profound than I thought at first. Indeed, Jack, indeed.

ahh. The plot twist!

Men are responding quite rationally, just as men have before, to the revealed preferences of 18 year old women.

Half a century ago, if you wanted to attract the attention of an 18 year old woman, you would show you were a good career prospect (often through diligence and physical strength), at which point she would be engaged to you at 19 and married to you at 20.

Now, if you want to attract the attention of an 18 year old woman, working out, starting a band, buying a motorcycle, and working in a bar will work quite well, and the previous path will work quite badly.

Men have adapted quickly to the new reality.

It may not be the men's fault. It may be the teachers'. Boys who test identically will get worse grades than girls, and it appears to be punitive on the teachers' parts. Because these are boys, which is to say children, they may not be able to control themselves before the teachers do irrepairable harm.

A majority of comments have been some variation on the theme that men have invested less in their marriageability because that has become a less important variable in the Great Mating Contest.

But that explanation just introduces an equally vexing puzzle: If the demand for boring-yet-stable-provider male traits has declined, then presumably the demand for exciting-and-sexy male traits has increased. But modern men also invest less in their overall sex appeal than previous generations.

There is some evidence that men are responding to this kind of increased demand, with their rising concern over appearance (more body-building, "metrosexuals", plastic surgery, etc). And there is also a new, but relatively small sub-culture devoted to seduction techniques and promiscuity.

However, for the most part, men have not showed an increasing interest in short-term mating to replace the sex that would have previously occurred in long-term relationships. Men have not invested in personality traits that contribute to low investment mating success. They are more domesticated and less virile than previous generations: less confident, less reckless, less promiscuous, less criminal. Less masculine.

I submit a slightly different explanation: The same modern permissiveness and technological convenience that has freed women from the home, has also freed men and women from each other. Not just as husbands and wives but as lovers as companions. Investment in gender roles is weakening, because men and women are less interested in attracting each other, relative to their other needs and goals. (Men are not only not buying the cow, they aren't drinking the milk for free. Apparently preferring the soy-based alternatives.)

I did not use the scare quotes around the word "freed", but it is certainly debatable whether this is good or bad for society. Atomization appears to have reduced crime and promiscuity, but has also eaten away at the fabric of trust and social affiliation at the foundation of an economically robust society. Current patterns may not be stable for too many more generations. The future will probably be more conservative, for both cultural and evolutionary reasons.

A majority of comments have been some variation on the theme that men have invested less in their marriageability because that has become a less important variable in the Great Mating Contest.

But that explanation just introduces an equally vexing puzzle: If the demand for boring-yet-stable-provider male traits has declined, then presumably the demand for exciting-and-sexy male traits has increased. But modern men also invest less in their overall sex appeal than previous generations.

There is some evidence that men are responding to this kind of increased demand, with their rising concern over appearance (more body-building, "metrosexuals", plastic surgery, etc). And there is also a new, but relatively small sub-culture devoted to seduction techniques and promiscuity.

However, for the most part, men have not showed an increasing interest in short-term mating to replace the sex that would have previously occurred in long-term relationships. Men have not invested in personality traits that contribute to low investment mating success. They are more domesticated and less virile than previous generations: less confident, less reckless, less promiscuous, less criminal. Less masculine.

I need not raise the issue of obesity. Gender patterns in slim East Asian nations are the canary in the coal mine for Ice People gender relations. Why comprise yourself to attract an actual man when you can pine over a fictional vampire or the Bieber-of-the-Month from the comfort of your tiny apartment? Why compromise yourself to attract an actual woman when you have an endless harem of balloon-eyed cartoon fantasy girls?

There are more movies, video games, books, and songs out there then you could consume in 10 lifetimes. We live in an age of fantasy overabundance. The future is now.

So, according to many of the posters, men who don't happen to have been born sexy and have failed to develop attractive personalities are dropping out from intellectual and competitive life because sex with good looking women is the only thing worth striving for. And women are all btches anyway who are all driven by innate and societal incentives to screw men over by taking them away from video games, forcing them to compete in the job market, refusing them sex, and then divorcing them and taking half their money.

You poor guys are like rats in a cage acting on the most shallow of reward systems.

Men never claimed to be complex.

Despite that we are making women firefighters and solders though they are not as strong as.

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