By Alexander Apostolides on March 22, 2012

Sex and Economics: Yep there is a paper on that too!

I am always fascinated by two things in economics:
1) the ability to not be aware of our limitation in mathematical theory and empirical econometrics can be used to answer all issues under the sun.
2) The lack of understanding that causality is not significance and vice versa [See "The Cult of Statistical Significance" (2008) by Ziliak and McCloskey.

I am still a huge fan of the economic method, with worries more about the accuracy of its claims than any other social science. Yet i am not sure if these authors realise how subversive they are with their papers. By providing seriously robust results to issues that are not seriously rational or linked, both papers show the fallacy of our attempts to understand everything in the world through our rather limited economic tools.

The papers deal with sex - not a new topic for economics since the Matlhusian prediction was that sex will always trump food production, and hence man is doomed to the level of subsistence. But even Malthus did not think of sex in exactly this way.

The first paper by Hugo M. Mialon sees faking orgasm as a rational decision in the act of lovemaking. Using a very good and large dataset, the orgasm survey, he argues robustly for why people tend to fake orgasms.

The second paper by Tatu Westling looks at the relationship between economic growth and penis size. In the best indication that correlation does not imply causal relationships, the author robustly ans statistically indicates that the is a relationship between economic growth and a reverse U of penis size. In fact this brings a new level to the Kuznets reverse U on environmental and inequality issues; all these three issues seem to have a relationship where the peak is related to average income levels.

I do not know if this authors are serious but their research is solid and it argues for something that economists forget: don't put too much trust on our instruments as they are only one part of the way we can explain the world so fully.

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