Thursday, August 27, 2009

Who saw it coming?

Beginning in the late 1970s and early 1980s, a reversal took place throughout the Western world in the ratio of single men to single women among people of reproductive age. This sex ratio slipped from male scarcity to parity and then to a relative excess of males, due to a decline in male mortality and an increase in divorce and remarriage by older men with younger women (Pedersen, 1991). The imbalance seems to have steadily worsened. In Germany, single men now outnumber single women up to the age of 60 (Glowsky, 2007).

This demographic reversal has elicited little comment over the past thirty years. Even with the recent spate of discussion in the blogosphere, the typical reaction among older commenters has been one of disbelief. Sorry guys, you just aren’t trying hard enough ...

Did anyone see it coming? In 1983, the looming wife shortage was briefly mentioned by Marcia Guttentag and Paul F. Secord in their book Too Many Women? The Sex Ratio Question. Using the 1980 U.S. census, they predicted that a shortage of potential partners would start to hit young men in the 1980s, “increasing by 1990 to about 116-118 men for every 100 women from 23 to 28 years of age” (Guttentag & Secord, 1983, p. 179). This analysis of the latest census is not discussed elsewhere in their book and seems to have been added as an afterthought.

When the two authors discuss wife shortages at other times and in other places, the reader initially gets the impression that there is nothing to worry about. When women are scarce, men become more responsible:

In a nutshell, when women are scarce and men are readily available, a protective morality develops that favors monogamy for women, limits their interactions with men, and shapes female roles in traditional domestic directions. But when men are scarce and women are readily available, no such protective morality arises to favor monogamy for men. Instead, the traditional protective customs and practices pertaining to women and the pressures on them to fulfill domestic roles weaken or disappear. Men have multiple relationships with women and become less willing to commit themselves in marriage to one woman. (Guttentag & Secord, 1983, pp. 231-232)

The authors are careful to add, however, that female scarcity is socially beneficial only if there are limits on women’s sexual freedom:

Remember that the background conditions under which imbalanced sex ratios have had their effect have been relatively constant from the time of classical Greece until the advent of the twentieth century. Earlier we called attention to the importance of the fact that structural power—economic, political, and legal—has invariably been in male hands. This condition has prevailed in every high and low sex ratio society that we have examined in detail. What this means is that sex ratio imbalances might well have radically different effects in a society where women had appreciable structural power. (Guttentag & Secord, 1983, p. 233)

In most high sex ratio societies of the past, where women held dyadic power because of their scarcity, this power was effectively neutralized by many legal constraints. Given contemporary Western customs, when young women are scarce, they are able to use their dyadic power to their advantage as long as they remain single.

… Young single women are not confined to the home and have much experience with the opposite sex. They make their own decisions about male friends or the choice of a husband. Either party to a marriage can now get a divorce if they want one. These changes that free young single people to choose their own mates and loosen the marriage bond favor the gender that is in short supply. In a word, structural constraints that have in the past neutralized dyadic power, particularly that of women, have disappeared. (Guttentag & Secord, 1983, p. 239)

The book Too Many Women? came out when the marriage market was just starting to flip from male scarcity to male surplus. Since then, this subject has been largely addressed by baby boomers who grew up in the 1960s or early 1970s. For them, male scarcity is the problem. They often blame it for the sexual revolution of that era and for various social pathologies among African Americans—who have continued to have a low sex ratio among individuals of reproductive age (because of high male mortality, high male incarceration, and low sex ratio at birth).

Hence, Pedersen (1991) predicted that the new regime of high sex ratios would deliver many positive outcomes: lower divorce rates; greater commitment by males to provisioning and parenting; less illegitimacy; and higher birth rates. He foresaw only one negative outcome: increased risk of male violence.

Bennett et al. (1989) concluded that the lower sex ratio of African Americans accounted for their lower rate of marriage and higher rate of marriage dissolution. Messner and Sampson (1991) similarly found that the low sex ratio of U.S. cities correlated with female-headed households and violent crime. They argued that “low sex ratios impede family formation and contribute to marital instability. The sex ratio therefore should be inversely related to indicators of family disruption.”

In a cross-cultural analysis, Barber (2000) compared 70 countries and found that societies with low sex ratios had less paternal investment and marital stability.

In practice, low-sex-ratio societies are characterized by hostility between the sexes and by marital instability … Moreover, in countries having a low sex ratio for 15- to 19-year-olds, young women are more likely to become pregnant in the teenage years… Evidently, if females cannot expect to make a favorable marriage, many gravitate to early reproduction without the economic contribution, and parental investment in general, provided by husbands. Crime rates are also higher, at least for women who have higher theft rates in low-sex-ratio societies, possibly reflecting reduced economic support from men. … These findings can be seen as supportive of the evolutionary theory of socialization according to which a pattern of antisocial and undisciplined behavior is elicited by a conflictual rearing environment. (Barber, 2000, p. 266)

These arguments are repeated by Wilson (2004) when he disagrees with the authors of Bare Branches in their contention that the growing number of single males in China and India will have harmful effects:

The authors neglect one offsetting benefit of having more young men than young women. In the U.S., a high sex ratio is statistically associated with high rates of marriage and low rates of illegitimate births. This argument, first made by Marcia Guttenberg and Paul Secord and amplified in other studies—and in my book, "The Marriage Problem"--arises from the laws of supply and demand.

If there are a lot of men for young women, then the women will trade sex in exchange for what they value, which for most women is a stable relationship--that is, marriage and two-parent child care. But if men are scarce and women abundant, then women will lose their bargaining power and exchange sex for whatever is available: one-night stands, illegitimate children or even prostitution. In the U.S., African-Americans have a very low sex ratio, and the consequences of that fact are obvious.

The above writers have shaped current thinking on the new marriage market, i.e., an excess of single males over single females at all reproductive ages. In general, their optimistic conclusions have gone unopposed. It is little wonder that few alarms have been sounded about this massive demographic shift.

Is the optimism warranted? All of the above authors cite Guttentag and Secord’s Too Many Women?, even to the point of chastising sex-ratio pessimists for ignoring its findings. Yet, as Guttentag and Secord themselves pointed out, those findings were based on societies that forbid female promiscuity. If women are allowed to be promiscuous, and if the marriage market is biased in their favor, they too will postpone commitment and try to play the market as long as possible. They too will ‘sow their wild oats.’

Indeed, over the past thirty years the new marriage market has failed to deliver its presumed benefits. Divorce rates have gone up, not down—because more women are filing for divorce. Illegitimacy has gone up, not down—because more women are voluntarily having children out of wedlock. And more women are postponing marriage or rejecting it altogether. True, men are participating more in family life, but this has not offset the overall withdrawal from family life by women. And true, the birth rate has gone up in the last few years, but for the rest of the past thirty years it was trending downward. The current boomlet probably has other causes.

These negative outcomes could have been predicted. Why weren’t they? The main reason seems to be an assumption that women are naturally monogamous and will remain so even when legal and cultural restraints are removed. It was a naïve assumption. To the extent that women are predisposed to monogamy, this predisposition is likely conditional on certain cues in the social environment, notably being in a parenting relationship. This cue is absent in a population that practices contraception and is voluntarily childless. Willingly or unwillingly, we have leveled the behavioral playing field between men and women.

Other criticisms could be leveled at the above studies. Do African Americans exhibit less paternal investment because their sex ratio is low at reproductive ages? Such sex ratios were, after all, typical for Euro Americans until the 1970s. They have also long been typical for most European societies, as seen in such practices as the sending of girls to nunneries and the giving of dowries at marriage. Moreover, sub-Saharan African societies typically have high sex ratios among individuals willing to mate (because the high polygyny rate dries up the supply of marriageable women). These societies nonetheless show the same pattern of low paternal investment.

And if we look at Barber’s cross-cultural study, its findings are almost wholly an artefact of population differences. Societies with low sex ratios are generally of sub-Saharan African descent. Barber failed to control for this confounding factor. He also erred in assuming that the population sex ratio closely matches the sex ratio among individuals willing to mate. This is not the case in Western societies and is especially not so in sub-Saharan Africa, where 20% to 40% of all marriages are polygynous and where the relatively low population sex ratio does not create a poor marriage market for women. In fact, the reverse is true: there is typically a surplus of marriageable men—because of the high polygyny rate.

So what is the optimal sex ratio of single males to single females? If we wish to have a society with no double standard, i.e., equal limitations on male and female sexual freedom, the optimum would be parity at all reproductive ages. This is something we have not had for thirty years now, and it would take an act of political will to bring it back. We would have to scrap no-fault divorce and make joint custody the norm. We would also have to lower the sex ratio at birth, probably through incentives for the birth of daughters.

It could be done and probably will be. The question is how bad things will get before action is finally taken.

References

Barber, N. (2000). The sex ratio as a predictor of cross-national variation in violent crime, Cross-Cultural Research, 34, 264-282.

Bennett, N.G., D.E. Bloom, & P.H. Craig. (1989). The divergence of black and white marriage patterns, AJS, 95, 692-722

Davis, K. & P. van den Oever. (1982). Demographic foundations of new sex roles, Population and Development Review, 8, 495-511.

Glowsky, D. (2007). Why do German men marry women from less developed countries? SOEP papers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research #61
http://www.dix.de/soeppapers


Guttentag, M. & P.F. Secord. (1983). Too Many Women? The Sex Ratio Question, Beverly Hills: Sage

Messner, S.F. & R.J. Sampson. (1991). The sex ratio, family disruption, and rates of violent crime: The paradox of demographic structure, Social Forces, 69, 693-713.

Pedersen, F.A. (1991). Secular trends in human sex ratios: Their influence on individual and family behavior, Human Nature, 2, 271-291.

Wilson, J.Q. (2004). Sex Matters. Will too many boys make China and India aggressive militarily? The Wall Street Journal, Tuesday, July 13, 2004
http://www.opinionjournal.com/la/?id=110005345

28 comments:

Jason Malloy said...

Dr. Frost:

”Is the optimism warranted? All of the above authors cite Guttentag and Secord’s Too Many Women?, even to the point of chastising sex-ratio pessimists for ignoring its findings. Yet, as Guttentag and Secord themselves pointed out, those findings were based on societies that forbid female promiscuity. If women are allowed to be promiscuous, and if the marriage market is biased in their favor, they too will postpone commitment and try to play the market as long as possible. They too will ‘sow their wild oats.’”


Guttentag and Secord's chapter on how sex ratio will no longer have any effects on women and men is empty, social-constructionist boilerplate. Actually they allow that the effects of sex ratio would remain if certain gender differences were innate, only to moot this idea, holding to the notion that only gender differences in physical size and strength are innate:

"One other possibility, deferred until now, needs consideration. Quite possibly some, or even most, aspects, of the roles of men and women, including those related to the possession of structural power, might ultimately be based on biological differences between the two genders. If this were the case, the prospects for gender roles radically different from those presently known might be much dimmer... Unfortunately for this thesis... there is no such evidence... it is always possible such differences have social origins." (p 232-233)

They suggest that evidence from primates and apes shows that females may be just as innately “sexually aggressive, and promiscuous” as men. This is total nonsense.

As I already showed in the last thread, the same sex ratio effects hold up in an environment where women are fully permitted (even encouraged) to be promiscuous: on college campuses. As long as females prefer committed relationships over casual sex, to a greater degree than men, then their sexual market power will dictate male social behavior in the same way as it did in the 1000s of years before female economic integration. The magnitude of the sex difference may shrink, but as long as it goes in the same direction, there is no reason to predict fundamental changes in sex ratio dynamics.

”Indeed, over the past thirty years the new marriage market has failed to deliver its presumed benefits. Divorce rates have gone up, not down—because more women are filing for divorce. Illegitimacy has gone up, not down—because more women are voluntarily having children out of wedlock. And more women are postponing marriage or rejecting it altogether”

C’mon. These are all consequences of female economic integration, not sex ratio. Obviously female economic independence is a much stronger factor in generating single motherhood than male-biased sex ratios are in alleviating it. And, in fact, divorce rates have not risen over the past 30 years; divorce rates plateaued, if not declined, after 1980:

”While the 1970s overshot the trend, the subsequent fall in divorce has put the divorce rate back on the trend-line and by 2005 the annual divorce rate projected by the pre-1946 trend is quite close to actual divorce rates.
Figure 1 also points to a remarkable and often overlooked fact: the divorce rate per thousand people actually peaked in 1981, and has been declining over the ensuing quarter century. The divorce rate in 2005—3.6 divorces per thousand people—is at its lowest level since 1970.”

Jason Malloy said...

”These negative outcomes could have been predicted. Why weren’t they?


I find this assertion highly dubious. The scientific literature and common sense notions going back a century say that female education and labor force participation reduces fertility and economic dependence on men. Should we bet that I can quickly find a dozen social science papers written before 1970 that say as much?


” To the extent that women are predisposed to monogamy, this predisposition is likely conditional on certain cues in the social environment, notably being in a parenting relationship. This cue is absent in a population that practices contraception and is voluntarily childless.”

Ridiculous and empirically false. I expect this kind of thing from garden variety hbd-denying social scientists Guttentag and Secord, but not from you. I responded to this in the last thread:

'The behavioral response is certainly modified by ecological conditions, but, as a biological universal, women experience many more negative emotions in response to uncommitted sexual relationships than men. All relationships are reproductive relationships as far as our evolved emotional circuitry is concerned.

This is just as true for women who have consciously decided to delay childbearing for career and education: women on college campuses have a revealed preference for committed relationships over casual sex.'

Also see Clark and Hatfield, of course. Your assertion contradicts a good deal of data showing huge differences in sexual preferences between men and women. And these different innate preferences are why sex ratios influence male and female behavior in the manner that they do.


Other criticisms could be leveled at the above studies. Do African Americans exhibit less paternal investment because their sex ratio is low at reproductive ages?

You’ve already accepted the effects of sex ratio on paternal behavior in your writing numerous times now. The black sex ratio seems to be low for reasons that are entirely genetic, and the literature demonstrates this has an effect on behavior. So that is one bio-genetic channel inducing behavior. That does not mean that low black paternal investment is entirely, or even predominantly, caused by sex ratio.


”And if we look at Barber’s cross-cultural study, its findings are almost wholly an artefact of population differences”

Studies are interpreted as a body, not in isolation. Half a dozen studies demonstrate that high sex ratios reduce violence, and the hypothesis itself has a strong theoretical link to the existing literature on sex ratio.


”We would have to scrap no-fault divorce and make joint custody the norm. We would also have to lower the sex ratio at birth, probably through incentives for the birth of daughters.
It could be done and probably will be. The question is how bad things will get before action is finally taken.”


Doubtful. Why would there be a political will to do something as costly and cumbersome as equalize sex ratios at birth through mass paid surrogacy when you have provided no convincing evidence we should believe that male-biased sex ratios are harmful to society at all? If anything, the data supports tipping the sex ratio towards even more males. Though I don’t think either political action is plausible or particularly desirable.

Peter Frost said...

Jason,

Guttentag & Secord stated that high sex ratios would lead to earlier and more stable marriages only if female promiscuity were constrained. They didn't deny that women might be more predisposed to monogamy. This predisposition, however, is bolstered by cultural and legal norms -- like most innate predispositions. Laws against incest, for instance, build upon innate avoidance of such sexual relationships. It is silly to argue that human behavior is determined only by innate predispositions. Legal and cultural restraints do matter.

If we remove legal and cultural constraints, will higher sex ratios among single individuals still lead to socially beneficial effects? (i.e., more parental investment, less divorce, less illegitimacy, more stable and longer-lasting marriages, etc.) Why, then, has the opposite happened over the past 30 years?

You don't really answer this question. You point to the increase in female education and female participation in the labor force. Yet these factors have been increasing at a slower rate over the past thirty rates. And surely any negative effects they had would have been offset, at least partially, by the presumed positive effects of a high sex ratio.

I can also point out that increased female education and labor force participation do not necessarily lead to more illegitimacy and marital instability. An extreme counter-example would be Iran, where women now outnumber men at university. Yes, I know, female sexual behavior is legally and culturally constrained in Iran -- which is precisely my point.

If one were to perform a cross-cultural analysis, one would find considerably variability in illegitimacy, age of first marriage, and marital stability among women of comparable education and labor force participation. Yes, cultural and legal constraints do matter.

On a final note, you argue that divorce rates peaked in 1981 and have since been declining. This is true only if you don't control for the rising age of first marriage.

Massachusetts, for instance, has a relatively low divorce rate because the age of first marriage is so high. People are less likely to divorce if they are too wrinkly to attract a new partner. Steve Sailer has written on this phenomenon, i.e., divorce rates are declining because people are postponing first marriage to older and older age brackets.

Again, this is evidence that women are 'playing the market' as long as possible -- as men did when the market was biased in their favor.

Peter Frost said...

"Yet these factors have been increasing at a slower rate over the past thirty rates."

- should be "over the past thirty years"

Anonymous said...

Divorce are just too expensive for middle class men. They have to repay everything twice, they loose their kids, they have to pay pensions, plus the stress, the move, the job unemployement etc.
Only the riches and/or the careless who just fly away, can do this. Therefore divorce rate is down.

sestamibi said...

For so long I thought I was the only one who ever read the Guttentag and Secord book (back in 1987 at the University of Connecticut library), so I'll observe that you are missing one of the most salient points of the book:

Sex ratios are most critical among cohorts of marriageable age, and the typical American marriage involves a man 2-3 years older than his wife.

From that perspective, there is indeed a scarcity of women among the latter boomers and early baby bust age groups (right now ages 30-45), but the number of births climbed each year from the late 70's through the early 90's, so younger cohorts are actually returning to the "man shortage" conditions that prevailed in the late 70's and 80's.

You also ask what an optimal sex ratio might be. Among those groups something like 90-95 would word best. A ratio of that order would insure that even the George Sodinis of the world have a reasonable chance of finding someone, while at the same time is sufficient to keep women from flexing their political muscles, grabbing too much power and screwing up the country any more than they already have done.

Jason Malloy said...

"If we remove legal and cultural constraints, will higher sex ratios among single individuals still lead to socially beneficial effects?... Why, then, has the opposite happened over the past 30 years? You don't really answer this question."

Dr. Frost,

You've now written two posts on your theory that male-biased sex ratios should lead to violence, single motherhood, and relationship instability. I don't exactly have a Grand Unified Theory of all the various cultural changes that have occurred over the last 30+ years, but your own theory about sex ratios is contradicted by theoretical and empirical evidence on how sex ratios actually influence social dynamics.

”You point to the increase in female education and female participation in the labor force. Yet these factors have been increasing at a slower rate over the past thirty rates. And surely any negative effects they had would have been offset, at least partially, by the presumed positive effects of a high sex ratio.”

Female economic independence is associated with those kinds of effects in the social science literature, so there is at least that advantage. Male-biased sex ratios, on the other hand, are associated with the opposite kinds of effects. Which puts that theory at a major disadvantage if we must choose between the two classes of explanation.

I don’t think it is unwarranted to think the trends you cite would be even more pronounced without the helpful aid of the secular sex ratio shift.

Furthermore, your theory that cultural and legal changes which increase female sexual freedom should reverse the standard effects of male-biased sex ratio, is also wrong on a theoretical and empirical level. The one fundamental condition is that females innately prefer relationships as the context for sex more than men prefer relationships as the context for sex. As long as that condition holds, the scarce gender is empowered and the standard effects of sex ratio should hold. The evidence in no way indicates this salient gender difference has gone away or that men have stopped becoming more DAD-like where women are more scarce.

"On a final note, you argue that divorce rates peaked in 1981 and have since been declining. This is true only if you don't control for the rising age of first marriage."


Agreed. But it is false to claim a rise in the divorce rate. Rather, there has been a decline in relationship stability.

Jason Malloy said...

"Guttentag & Secord stated that high sex ratios would lead to earlier and more stable marriages only if female promiscuity were constrained. They didn't deny that women might be more predisposed to monogamy."

Female promiscuity is constrained, by innate biology, in a relative sense when compared with males.

They certainly didn't "deny" this, in an explicit way, they simply mooted it, since it couldn't be "proved" to their satisfaction like sex differences in size and strength (not that I see how the innateness of these differences have any firmer basis in fact). See the quotes from the book I provided above.

Tod said...

Female promiscuity is constrained, by innate biology, in a relative sense when compared with males.

Female reproductive success is constrained by by innate biology. Female promiscuity is not.

A Lack of Manpower - Women Migrate Away from East Germany
"According to the authors of the study, this lack of women is without parallel anywhere in Europe. Even regions in the Arctic Circle of northern Sweden and Finland, which have long suffered from urban migration, particularly among young women, do not come close to the East German levels.[...]regions with a high surplus of men are particularly prone to right-wing extremist ideologies – and are where right-wing parties achieve their best election results. This correlation is stronger than the link with other socio-economic indicators such as the rate of unemployment."

===================================
Arterial calcifications and increased expression of vitamin D receptor targets in mice lacking TIF1α
"Interestingly, the fact that these metabolic disturbances correlate with a calcifying arteriopathy and other features of premature aging in TIF1α−/− mice provides support for the hypothesis that aging is promoted by an increased activity of the vitamin D signaling pathway"
-------------------
Newly evolved fur coat a quick hit in Nebraska
" mutations can occur while an animal is in the womb. If this occurs early enough, the mutation may be present in many of its sperm or egg cells. Then the animal could have several offspring with the mutation, making it easier for the mutation to spread."

Null-A said...

Tod, says, quoting Jason:



Female promiscuity is constrained, by innate biology, in a relative sense when compared with males.


Female reproductive success is constrained by by innate biology. Female promiscuity is not.


I think you are both missing the point. Humans are, after all, highly flexible.

Female promiscuity is constrained normally by biology because the cost of promiscuity is high, both in disease terms and pregnancy terms. An unwanted pregnancy for a promiscuous woman was traditionally very bad and had a highly negative effect on reproductive success.

However, in modern western societies, both costs have been highly ameliorated.

In addition, the highly productive economies we have been enjoying have led to surpluses that have enabled many women to be supported by the state.

Under those conditions, given that women have traditionally used sex to control men, appease men, seduce men, is it any wonder that they have shifted to using sex to evaluate potential partners. When they have a fallback (the government) why not?

Vertumne said...

You may find these Eurostat sex ratio data by european country very interesting:

http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/tgm/table.do?tab=table&init=1&language=en&pcode=tps00011&plugin=1

Resume: women outnumber men in Baltic countries, while men slightly outnumber women in Iceland and Southeastern Europe.

Peter Frost said...

Jason,

Divorce rates are still rising within each age group. The levelling off for all age groups is an artefact of the rising age of first marriage.

In Canada, for instance, the divorce rate peaked in 1987, declined slightly, and then levelled off. Within each age group, however, it has continued to rise:

Divorce rates per 100,000 legally married women, by age and time period

Age - 1970-72 / 1980-83 / 1990-92

20-24 - 708.4 / 1,606 / 2,201.6
25-29 - 961.8 / 2,124.6 / 2,212.9
30-34 - 854.3 / 1,761.3 / 1,957.4
35-39 - 717.1 / 1,455.5 / 1,713.5
40-44 - 630.9 / 1,123.2 / 1,434

The overall divorce rate is levelling off because fewer and fewer people are getting married in their twenties - the age group where divorce rates are the highest. This is also the age group where the operational sex ratio is most favorable for women. At these ages, a woman can divorce and easily find a new high-quality partner.

"Male-biased sex ratios, on the other hand, are associated with the opposite kinds of effects."

Sigh. You're referring to Guttentag and Secord while ignoring their word of caution. Their conclusions were based on cultures where female reproductive behavior is limited by legal and cultural constraints. We have created a new environment of sexual behavior where these constraints no longer exist.

I agree that women are innately predisposed to monogamy. But this predisposition varies from one woman to the next (just as it varies from one population to the next). And a predisposition is just that. It's not an absolute constraint and it is probably conditional on certain social cues (e.g., parenting) that no longer exist for most people of reproductive age. When young women are faced with a 2:1 sex ratio in their favor, a lot of them will hesitate before committing and many will play the market until the sex ratio becomes less interesting.

Increasingly, that means the mid-40s. Once the average age of first marriage has risen to the mid-30s, it will be game over. Marriage will cease to be a 'pact for procreation.' It will just be a 'celebration of togetherness.' Or whatever.

I'm not going to badger you on this point. Reality is probably the best teacher. All I can do is warn people.

Jason Malloy said...

Dr. Frost,


"Sigh. You're referring to Guttentag and Secord while ignoring their word of caution. Their conclusions were based on cultures where female reproductive behavior is limited by legal and cultural constraints. We have created a new environment of sexual behavior where these constraints no longer exist."


I’ve repeatedly explained why “legal and cultural constraints” are not the only reason for sex ratio dynamics. You can refuse to engage me on those points, but please don’t tell me I’ve “ignored” your assertions because that’s not true. Guttentag and Secord are not holy prophets, I’m free to praise them or disagree with them on any points I wish.


”. It's not an absolute constraint and it is probably conditional on certain social cues (e.g., parenting) that no longer exist for most people of reproductive age.

Again, I’ve already engaged you on this point and you’ve just ignored it, and responded like I haven’t said anything.

This is an empirically false assertion: 1) There is no evidence that young men and women now have an equal desire for casual sex. The evidence shows a large difference. 2) There is no evidence that young men and women now have the same affective responses to casual sex. The evidence shows a large difference. 3) There is no evidence that traditional sex ratio dynamics have stopped or reversed. The evidence shows these dynamics continue.


”When young women are faced with a 2:1 sex ratio in their favor, a lot of them will hesitate before committing and many will play the market until the sex ratio becomes less interesting.”

Then why are women on college campuses with more men less likely to “play the market”? If your theory doesn’t even pan out in the relationship market with the most female sexual freedom (and extreme sex ratios), what does that say about the wider relationship market, which is much more traditional?


”I'm not going to badger you on this point. Reality is probably the best teacher. All I can do is warn people.”


If 'badgering' me means engaging my arguments, then I wish you would. The danger you are warning about is not supported by the evidence. It’s like warning people to stay away from swimming pools that have lifeguards.

Null-A said...

A lot of this discussion seems to assume that males are uniformly alike in abilities and that they will all experience the same sex ratio.

However, that is simply not the case.

Given the greater variance in male attributes, and female hypergamy, it is entirely possible that some males within a cohort will experience very low sex ratios while others will experience very high to impossible sex ratios.

That makes for a highly exploitable resource for the males that experience very low sex ratios.

Tod said...

Then why are women on college campuses with more men less likely to “play the market”? If your theory doesn’t even pan out in the relationship market with the most female sexual freedom (and extreme sex ratios), what does that say about the wider relationship market, which is much more traditional?


How typical are the population on campuses?; they're a concentration of highly educated women. Those are the most likely to end up childless at 40+. Moreover the reputation of a campus for hedonism and the emphasis on certain subjects affect the ratio of the sexes and the sort of students.

Peter Frost said...

Jason,

I'm trying to engage your arguments. The problem is that you're not engaging mine.

I never claimed that men and women are equally predisposed to monogamy. That claim is irrelevant to my argument.

I am simply saying that female sexual behavior takes place within an envelope of possible outcomes and that the outcomes are influenced by (a) legal and cultural constraints and (b) the operational sex ratio. Undoubtedly this envelope is narrower than that of male sexual behavior. Who said otherwise?


"I’ve repeatedly explained why “legal and cultural constraints” are not the only reason for sex ratio dynamics."

Who said they were? Again, you're throwing up a straw man. I am simply saying that legal and cultural constraints influence female sexual behavior. Nothing more. Nothing less.

"Male-biased sex ratios, on the other hand, are associated with the opposite kinds of effects."

Only when there are legal and cultural constraints on female sexual behavior. If you remove those constraints, you get a different picture. Look at the last 30 years. Has the shift to a male-biased sex ratio produced less divorce, less illegitimacy, less marital instability, higher birth rates, and more male investment in education? Those were the predictions made by Pedersen almost 30 years ago. How have they turned out?

Jason Malloy said...

Dr. Frost:

”I never claimed that men and women are equally predisposed to monogamy. That claim is irrelevant to my argument.”


To the extent you are saying biology plays a minor conditional role in producing male-female differences in desire for sex within pair-bonds, you are saying that the environmental precondition for that biological difference is gone, and that now there is no longer a difference in male and female preferences for sex to occur within a pair-bond.

I empirically refuted your claims. Your claim that “being in a parenting relationship” is a precondition for the sex difference in desire for pair-bonded sex is empirically false. Women with and without immediate reproductive plans have a differential preference for sex within relationships. In fact, I am not aware of a sub-group of women found anywhere who prefer uncommitted sex as much as men. Your claim that men and women no longer have a differential preference for pair-bonded sex is empirically false.


” Only when there are legal and cultural constraints on female sexual behavior. If you remove those constraints, you get a different picture.”


Except for the fact that you don’t get a different picture when you remove those constraints, because females have a greater innate desire for pair-bonded sex than men – an internal constraint that acts in the exact same way as the social and legal constraints. Therefore when women are in short supply, women have more sexual market power, and can extract more emotional and financial resources from men as per their greater innately driven preference.

You need to explain why this logic is wrong. To the extent that past “legal and cultural constraints” always help produce female desire/need for sex within pair-bonds, those constraints contributed to that sexual market dynamic. But you have offered no logical reason to believe that dynamic should reverse when the same essential ingredient – greater female desire for sex within pair-bonds -- never reversed or disappeared.

At most, the premium on male commitment was reduced significantly as the female requirement for a financial provider dipped considerably. But a significant reduction is not a disappearance, much less a reversal.

You seem to want to square this circle by simply claiming the sex difference no longer exists, but this is empirically false.

Jason Malloy said...

”Look at the last 30 years. Has the shift to a male-biased sex ratio produced less divorce, less illegitimacy, less marital instability, higher birth rates, and more male investment in education? Those were the predictions made by Pedersen almost 30 years ago. How have they turned out?”

The popularity of pomegranates has also risen over the last 30 years. Perhaps pomegranates are the cause of illegitimacy. This is why scientific paradigms are helpful. As I already said, these shifts have a theoretical and empirical connection to female economic integration, but have neither a theoretical or empirical connection to sex ratio.

A single inference works like an anecdote. Why not make a prediction? Should more single men to single women in American cities now predict less male marriage or more male marriage? According to Dr. Frost’s theory it should predict less marriage for men, since women will have more options and “shop around;” foregoing childbirth for wild-oat-sowing on into spinsterhood. According to standard sex ratio theory, it should predict more male marriage, since men will have less opportunity for promiscuity, and work harder to hold down one woman.

An new analysis of almost 700 zip codes in the 10 largest American cities in the 2000 census shows that standard sex ratio theory is still correct: more men = more marriage.


Let’s try another one: Should more men than women predict greater amounts of social violence cross-nationally or less amounts of social violence? According to Dr. Frost’s theory it should predict more violence cross-nationally, since men in countries with less women should have less opportunity for marriage and will therefore engage in more risky physical contest to attract women, or simply because they have nothing to lose. According to standard sex ratio theory, it should predict less violence, since men have less opportunity for promiscuity and need to behave in a more pro-social manner to attract and hold on to a long-term partner.

Dr. Frost challenges the Nigel Barber paper on international homicide and sex ratio as an artifact of Sub-Saharan African sex ratios, so I took homicide data from Wikipedia, and sex ratio data from the CIA factbook and compared 38 European countries (Uploaded here).

There is no association between current sex ratio at birth and current homicide rates. On the other hand, current adult sex ratio has a strong inverse correlation with current homicide rates: -.78. That means European nations with more men have significantly less homicide (The homicide rate itself is not the cause of the sex ratio imbalances: It represents a very small % of the population). Excluding the 7 Baltic and Eastern European countries with unusually high homicide rates barely affects the correlation: -.74.

No one is going to stand behind elaborate government programs for increasing the number of female births when the numbers routinely suggest doing so is not only not helpful, but actively harmful to society.

Tod said...

JM says
But you have offered no logical reason to believe that dynamic should reverse when the same essential ingredient – greater female desire for sex within pair-bonds -- never reversed or disappeared.

You think PF is arguing for a "reversal" but that would entail women engaging in exclusively male behavior such as rape; casual sex has never been a male preserve. A increase in the proportion of females engaging in a sexual behavior pattern which was already followed by some women is what the post is arguing for.


An new analysis of almost 700 zip codes in the 10 largest American cities would be complicated by the the minority communities who live there would it not?



"According to Dr. Frost’s theory" the area with the greatest shortage of women is where an increase in violence is found. Violence and fear of violence in East and West Germany
"The number of homicides among East German males increased between 1989 and 1991, and the homicide rate remains high when compared with West German males (although lower than that of American males). Homicide among German females is less common, presently about equally likely in East and West". The same area ought to show a shift towards disruptive political views such as voting for far right parties.

Anonymous said...

This is an empirically false assertion: 1) There is no evidence that young men and women now have an equal desire for casual sex.

I can imagine the 'empirical' observation.

Are you:
a) A slut
b) Monogamous
c) A virgin

Mr Malloy lives in the land of unicorns where women are wholesome, detest sex and uphold motherhood.

Jason Malloy said...

TOD:

"You think PF is arguing for a "reversal" but that would entail women engaging in exclusively male behavior such as rape; casual sex has never been a male preserve. A increase in the proportion of females engaging in a sexual behavior pattern which was already followed by some women is what the post is arguing for."

I never said Dr. Frost argued that women are now more promiscuous than men. He did repeatedly state that females no longer have more monogamous sexual preferences than men in the modern environment -- an empirically false claim.

Both males and females are more promiscuous now than in the past -- I'm the one here who provided the data showing this. This was never under debate in this forum. What is under debate is how this should affect sex ratio-based social dynamics. There is no theoretical basis for saying an increase in female promiscuity should reverse standard sex ratio dynamics. But there is a theoretical basis for saying that an equalization of sexual preferences between men and women should end standard sex ratio dynamics. And that is why Dr. Frost is trying to suggest there is no longer a sex difference in preferences for uncommitted sex.

"According to Dr. Frost’s theory" the area with the greatest shortage of women is where an increase in violence is found.

A lame argument. Germany has the highest operational sex ratio of all the European countries I looked at, but one of the lowest homicide rates in Europe.

If you were serious, you’d do a longitudinal analysis with European countries; Dr. Frost’s theory would predict a relationship between the degree of change in violence and the degree of change in sex ratios across nations. Of course I’m the only one here who provided an analysis like this. It does not support you.

Your own link on “right-wing extremism” and sex ratio notes that male-biased sex ratios were not associated with violent crime in Germany. Further, if one has “extreme right-wing” political views on issues like immigration, permissive sexuality, and birth rates – as it would seem Dr. Frost and many in the HBD-sphere do -- then that’s one more argument that male-biased sex ratios are socially beneficial. Men apparently vote more like men when there are a bunch of other men around.



ANONYMOUS:

” Mr Malloy lives in the land of unicorns where women are wholesome, detest sex and uphold motherhood.”

No, Mr. Malloy lives in reality where women, on average, do not have equal sex drives to men, and do not have the same preferences for uncommitted sex as men.

Tod said...

"A lame argument. Germany has the highest operational sex ratio of all the European countries I looked at, but one of the lowest homicide rates in Europe".


The operational sex ratio does have the effect Dr. Frost claims all other things being equal. Comparing East to West Germany the effect is there I think.
As I already made clear I would expect the effect to be a weak one because the proprortion of the German population who are young men in is very low. Homocide rates and revolutionary activity are very much influenced by the population median age .

Peter Frost said...

"He did repeatedly state that females no longer have more monogamous sexual preferences than men in the modern environment"

No, I did not. You're misrepresenting my argument. Grotesquely.

To the extent that we release female sexual behavior from legal and cultural restraints we will see a corresponding increase in shorter-term, less stable relationships, 'playing the market', promiscuity, etc.

In saying this, I'm not saying that unrestrained female sexual behavior is identical to unrestrained male sexual behavior. Women are more predisposed to longer-term, more monogamous relationships than men are.

But cultural and legal norms do matter. They do influence real-life behavior. To say otherwise is to say that culture and law don't matter --- that people merely act according to their inner feelings and that's that.

"Your claim that “being in a parenting relationship” is a precondition for the sex difference in desire for pair-bonded sex is ..."

I never made such a claim. I suggested that pair-bonding is influenced by cues in the social environment, such a being in a parenting relationship. There are people (like Helen Fischer) who make this kind of argument, but I have no firm opinion.

Peter Frost said...

"Further, if one has “extreme right-wing” political views on issues like immigration, permissive sexuality, and birth rates – as it would seem Dr. Frost and many in the HBD-sphere do"

Jason,

For the record, I don't consider myself either right-wing or left-wing. I frankly feel little sympathy for the political right. With regard to Canada's upcoming election, I'm still undecided.

Jason Malloy said...

DR. FROST:


ME: "He did repeatedly state that females no longer have more monogamous sexual preferences than men in the modern environment"

YOU: "No, I did not. You're misrepresenting my argument. Grotesquely."


ME: ""Your claim that “being in a parenting relationship” is a precondition for the sex difference in desire for pair-bonded sex is ..."

YOU: "I never made such a claim."



Dr. Frost, we've been talking about this for over two weeks now. Either your position is inchoate and therefore drifting in random, opportunistic directions, or you are deliberately being evasive about your ideas, because you don't want your position to be falsifiable.

Several times now you have repeated this quote:


"These negative outcomes could have been predicted. Why weren’t they? The main reason seems to be an assumption that women are naturally monogamous and will remain so even when legal and cultural restraints are removed. It was a naïve assumption. To the extent that women are predisposed to monogamy, this predisposition is likely conditional on certain cues in the social environment, notably being in a parenting relationship. This cue is absent in a population that practices contraception and is voluntarily childless. Willingly or unwillingly, we have leveled the behavioral playing field between men and women."

And:

"I agree that women are innately predisposed to monogamy. But... It's not an absolute constraint and it is probably conditional on certain social cues (e.g., parenting) that no longer exist for most people of reproductive age."


This was intended to communicate the following set of premises:


Premise 1: Women and men have different biological preferences for sexual commitment
Premise 2: But this biologically mediated difference in preferences is only triggered by social signals that sexual relationships are procreative in nature.
Premise 3: Social signals no longer indicate sex is for a procreative purpose
Premise 4: Therefore women and men no longer have different preferences for sexual commitment.


I’ve demonstrated that Premise 2 is empirically incorrect, and now you are back peddling, trying to suggest you instead intended to communicate the following set of premises:


Premise 1: women and men have different biological preferences for sexual commitment
Premise 2: This biologically mediated difference is triggered, in some important part, by social signals that sexual relationships are procreative in nature.
Premise 3: These social signals no longer are as strong as they used to be
Premise 4: Therefore the difference in preferences for uncommitted sex between men and women is no longer as large as it used to be.

There are no false premises here, but this revisionism completely negates the original context and purpose of your statement, which was to argue that, now that "cultural and legal restrictions" aren't holding them back, women should become more promiscuous when there are more members of the opposite sex around just like men do (i.e. that females are now like men).

But women don’t become more promiscuous when there are more men around --even where sex has entirely non-reproductive purposes -- precisely because men, as a group, are always more promiscuous than women. The “behavioral playing field” is not leveled because men are always the sex who will push for less commitment in sexual transactions. It’s an innate difference. Think of it as a game of chicken that men will always win. In an environment where women are ok with one night stands, men will push for the glory hole.

Jason Malloy said...

[Continued due to word limit]


So while we both agree that women have become more accepting of uncommitted sex over time, your theory that male-biased sex ratios are the cause of this contradicts standard sociobiological logic.

The data agrees with my perspective and contradicts yours. Both within and between countries level of economic development and female education correlate with higher degrees of female permissiveness to sex outside of committed relationships (As measured by, e.g., sociosexual inventories), and both within and between countries male-biased sex ratios lead to lower levels of female permissiveness to sex outside of committed relationships. See Richard Lippa’s 2007 study of 53 nations or David Schmitt’s 2005 study of 48 nations, which both explicitly test this and confirm what I've been saying here for 2+ weeks.



TOD:


"The operational sex ratio does have the effect Dr. Frost claims all other things being equal."

And what "other things" are those? Funny how you've never described this neglected factor x that's distorted all the published data I've linked to over the past two weeks.

Can you even ad hoc something, or should I just take it on faith that you've thought of something good that scientists have all overlooked up until this point?


"Comparing East to West Germany the effect is there I think."


"All other things being equal" between East and West Germany, of course! Dude, your own source stated there was no link found between male-biased sex ratios and crime within East Germany. So unless there is no overlap in sex ratios for the regions within East and West Germany, this can't easily be the explanation for the crime differences between the two sides.

I can't believe you keep being so vocal and adamant on this position you have no ability to defend.

Tod said...

My comparison was between the East and West of Germany, using the same country holds all other things rather equal. The East has an shortage of eligible women compared to the West and it also has has a detectable trend to the far right and a higher rate of male (but not female) perpetrated homocides.

"Crime" isn't higher but homocide statistics were what you - correctly - staked your generalisations on when this discussion started, not crime.

Eugene B. said...

Dr. Frost, do you still check these older blogs? I wanted to post a relevant comment, but I'm not sure if it will be read, so I wanted to ask first.