is divorce bad I will discuss this issue in detail and as we all see that divorce is getting very common and more more people wants to live together without marrying. in today blog I will discuss why divorce is bad...


is divorce bad


There are 1.3 million single men in New York, 1.8 million single women, of whom more than three million are men, about twelve think they have enough sex.

Tiger Tiger Bar, Haymarket, London, 2006

Tiger Tiger is a large London bar in the heart of the theater area, with thick smoky air, loud music, and pheromones. If you like this kind of thing, this is a good place to meet friends and drink cocktails or a glass of Chardonnay. Nor a bad place to find love. As I drove there, to one of the smaller, quieter lounges in the back, I was interested in meeting people who had signed up for some more romantic help.

The event was Speed ​​Date. 

About twenty boys and girls full of hope gathered for an evening whose format is growing. Everyone was given a name tag, a pen, a list of boxes, and a large drink. The women sat down at small tables dotted in the room. The Hosta representative of the speed dating company that organized the event - rang a small bell, which made all the men hurry to the "dates" assigned to them, which lasted every three minutes. As the hour passed, the bell rang again, the elongated ones shook hands (or if brave ones gave each other a peck on the cheek), and the men jumped to the next table and the next woman. Half an hour later everyone met everyone and marked "date" or "no date" for each name on his list. This information would not only be revealed the next day, via the internet, but everyone could chat in happy ignorance about the bar or, oh chow, slip away from home.

I was there in a professional role, I used economics to “help” ordinary people to a TV show I was filming. The victim, in this case, was a volunteer named Andy, who bravely agreed to use some piece of game theory with a rabbit I had cooked to persuade his favorite girl to go on a real date with him. It crashed and burned on national television while I was debating whether game theory got complicated. This was not a high point for Andy, nor for my project to use economics as a tool for self-improvement.

You might think this was the first and last time any economist dared to show his face on a fast date, but not at all. We cannot get enough of them. Economists at Columbia University have even bothered to organize one. Since John von Neumann's game theory promised to help us understand love and marriage, economists have been interested in how people choose their spouses and how relationships work. And if you want to understand the way people choose their affiliates, Speed ​​Date is a great place to start. In a quick date you will get information on how each person has responded to dozens of potential partners, something that would not be possible to pick up in more traditional dating situations without binoculars, snooping devices, and a good private investigator.

There is, of course, much more to love, dating, and marriage than rational choice theory, but rational choices are an important part of the story. A biologist or poet may explain why we fall in love, and a historian can trace how the institution of marriage has changed over the centuries. But economists can tell you something about the hidden logic that underlies love.

This chapter examines the competition, supply, and demand in the marriage market. Persevere - Does competition really apply to love? If you think not, you’d in luck: Obviously the object of your affection never escaped with your best friend. Or maybe you think the key ingredients of the economist's analytical toolkit, supply and demand, do not belong in the discussion of romance. Tell this to students (mostly men) for engineering and to students for nurses (mostly women) who at universities around the world organize "nurses and engineers" parties.

Specifically, we will see how rational people react in places where there is an imbalance between the number of men and women available. Carrie Bradshaw, the character from "Sex and the City" whose quote opened this episode, told us a wealth of stories about the difficulties single women face when they outnumber single women in New York. It seems that even a small gender gap can have surprisingly far-reaching effects.

We will continue to examine the rational bargaining - if often implicit - that takes place within a marriage or other long-term relationship: who goes to work, who takes care of the children, who spends the money and who submits for divorce. Husbands and wives love each other (we hope) and enjoy each other's company; They are a romantic couple. But they are also an economic unit, which distributes labor and shares the costs of raising children or laying a roof over everyone. Economic changes — that is, rational responses to changing incentives — were behind the rapid rise of divorce in the 1970s; They are also behind the dramatic but unfinished steps women are taking towards equality in the workforce. We will see how rational responses have made divorce, the birth control pill, and women’s achievement in the workplace a reinforcing loop: all of these issues are closely related to negotiations between men and women in long-term relationships.

First of all, however, it is time to get rid of an age-old wish. Do people spend their lives searching for the "one", the one person - or less ambitious, a particular type of person - who is the perfect match for them in terms of temperature, social, professional, economic and sexual? Or do people adjust their standards according to what they can achieve? In other words, are the romantics right, or the cynics?

I admit I cannot answer this question definitively - not even the most ingenious of the new generation of economists today has invented an experiment that will prove whether people lower their intent in response to market conditions when it comes to marriage. But there is some evidence to suggest from a study on quick dating, courtesy of economists Michel Ballot and Marco Francesconi. Quick dates are able to offer a date with anyone and everyone they meet and do so electronically after the event, so the rejection embarrassment is minimized. This means that for most people, a date proposal is a simple and uncomplicated expression of approval and that no one will suggest a date they do not want to be accepted or will refrain from an offer even though they want a date. Ballet and Francesconi persuaded one of the UK's largest dating agencies to publish information on the activities of 1,800 men and 1,800 women who for almost two years took part in eighty-four quick dating events. Investigators were able to see who went to what event, and who suggested a date with whom.

It will not surprise many people to hear that while women offered a match with about one in ten of the men they met, men were a little less picky and offered a match with a double number of women, with about half the success rate. Nor will it shock anyone to hear those tall men, thin women, non-smokers, and professionals have received further offers. But what might raise the odd eyebrow is that it has emerged from 2,000 separate speed dates (that’s a hundred hours of cohesive conversation) that people seem to systematically - and rationally - change their standards depending on who has stabilized for the speed date. They didn't seem to be looking for the "one" at all.

For example, men prefer women who are not overweight. You might think, then, that on a given evening twice as many overweight women would appear, it would be a night when fewer men would offer to go on a date. Not at all. Men offer to date just as often, so when overweight women double check-in, overweight double women get dating offers.

Similarly, more women prefer tall men than short men, but on evenings when no one exceeds a meter, the short guys are much luckier. Most people prefer an educated partner, but they will suggest dropout rates from schools if the doctorate goes away. If people are really looking for a partner of some kind, we would expect them to respond to the absence of such people by returning the bus home in a disappointed shrug, resigning to spend Saturday nights in front of the TV, and hoping for a better turnout on the next speed date. But that's just not what's happening. Instead, people respond to easy choices by lowering their standards.

Note that this experiment does not indicate that men are not deterred: even men reject 80 percent of women, and women still choose more. What it does show is that we are more obsessed when we can afford to be and less annoying when we cannot: Roughly speaking, when it comes to the dating market, we are content with what we can achieve. Francesconi told me that according to his estimates, our proposals to go out with a smoker or non-smoker are 98 percent response - there is no nice way to put it - “market conditions” and only 2 percent are dominated by unchangeable desires. The proposals to date for tall, short, fat, thin, professional, clerical, educated, or uneducated people are all more than nine-tenths dominated by what is offered that night. Only when there is a mismatch between the ages do people even seem to consider waiting for another evening and hoping for a more appropriate range of potential mates. Even then, the importance of preferences is still less than the importance of opportunity in the market. In the battle between the cynics and the romantics, the cynics win hands down.

"Who you offer to meet is largely a function of who happens to be sitting in front of you, "Francesconi explained to me. (He's a charming Italian who I imagine would do quite well if forced to attend a speed date.) "In this case, it's largely random."

Now, of course, the fact that people seem happy to settle for what they can achieve when considering asking someone out on a date next Saturday does not prove that their standards are equally Flexible when it comes to looking at marriage. But we choose our first dates from the people we meet, and we choose our marriage partners from the people we were with. Moreover, if you reject every one in the marriage market, you are going to die alone; If you put everyone off in the fast-dating market on a particular evening, you can try again in a few days, and the organizers will even pay for it. (People who do not bid on a date are courtesy of another quick date.) If our marriage standards are not as flexible as a romantic might believe, why do they become so tense on a quick date, given that maintenance costs are so low? My suspicion is that because we adapt to conditions during dating, we also adapt to conditions in long-term relationships.

That may be enough to delay the economists' analysis of marriages and marriages already, but I hope not. Yes, economists think that dating and marriage take place in a "marriage market," but that does not mean a market where husbands and wives are bought and sold. It simply means that there is supply, there is demand - the child is their demand - and necessarily, there is competition. Carrie Bradshaw, with her small figure of about 1.3 million men and 1.8 million women, understood this well. So is anyone who ever complains to friends that "all good men are taken away" or that everyone is suddenly mating. All this does not deny that there is true love. But while love is blind, lovers are not: they are well aware of what opportunities lie ahead and they rationally consider those opportunities when they go out. They also make big and rational decisions to improve their chances or face when the chances seem bleak. I will see that supply and demand in the dating market motivate people to work, study and even move in search of better leads. It seems that in places where men are poor, women respond by staying longer in school. In cities where men are particularly wealthy, women are particularly affluent. (Has Carrie Bradshaw ever stopped to think there is a reason so many women live in Manhattan?) Love is not rational, but love is.

The rationality of the lovers has surprisingly far-reaching effects when one species surpasses the other, even by a small gap. To see why we must visit a place that exists only in the strange imagination of economists: the marriage supermarket.

The marriage market, somewhere in an economic place

It takes two to tango and also needs two to get married. That is why marriage requires that you go out and find someone you want to marry and convince him to marry you. This is a compatible issue, and it is not unique to marriage. Getting a job is emotionally another offer to find a wife or husband, but in some ways, it is similar: you need to consider a variety of jobs, check which ones you prefer, and convince the employer that he loves the game as much as you do. And as in the job market, who is suitable for whom, and under what conditions, will depend on what the competition offers.

Imagine twenty single guys and twenty single girls in a room. This is the marriage supermarket, named because shopping is simple, there is nothing exciting in any of the products, and all under one roof. Getting Married in the Marriage Supermarket is Easy: Every man and woman who introduce themselves at the checkout can charge a hundred dollars (a simple way to represent the psychological or financial gains from marriage) and leave. Equally, and you get cash without wires connected.

The marriage supermarket is a very simple model of marriage. Like all economic models, it leaves many details and entanglements in an attempt to tease something interesting about the remaining core issues. And they? That most people would rather be married than stay single and that your income from marriage depends on the supply of spouses. Of course, we know that in reality there are happy individuals for life and married people who curse the day they walked in the aisle. But to the extent that we accept these two assumptions as embodying a recognized true core about the real world, the marriage supermarket can tell us something useful.

Real estate benefits are not measured in dollars - or at least not in dollars. But for the sake of this model, we do not need to know whether women (or men) are really looking for men (or women) who will give them money, orgasms, sparking conversations, or a warm glow of confidence. All we need to know is that they would rather be married than single.

Since each pair can raise a hundred dollars to split between them, the only question is how to split the loot. With an equal number of men and women, we can expect a split of fifty-fifty. However, it does not take much to change this conclusion completely.

Imagine an unusual evening in a supermarket, with twenty unmarried women appearing but only nineteen unmarrieds. What happened to the other guy? He's gay. Or dead. Or in prison. Or moved to Silicon Valley. Or studying economics. For whatever reason, he's unavailable - like half a million lonely guys Carrie thinks have disappeared in Manhattan. You might think that the slight shortage of men will cause women modest discomfort, but in fact, even this tiny imbalance ends up being very bad news for the women and very good news for the remaining men. Lack is power and more power than you thought.

Here's why. One woman is going to come home with a partner and not a check from the cashier. This is bad news for her. What is less obvious is that the women who get a partner will also be worse off - and their loss is the profit of the men. Remember that spouses get to split a hundred dollars when they show up at the box office; Suppose that the nineteen couples have temporarily agreed on a division of fifty-fifty.

The strange woman outside, considering returning home empty-handed, will make the blatantly rational decision to burn an existing pairing. The unwanted woman can certainly offer a better deal than a split of fifty-fifty, perhaps agreeing to accept only forty dollars. Her opponent, being a similar rational soul, would not want to lose completely, so she would bid against - she might offer to get only thirty dollars. Bids will fall until the woman dealing with leaving alone offers to go through the box office with some lucky ones and get only one cent as a price to do so. He will receive $ 99.99; Its percentage profit is better than nothing.

The trouble does not end there. Economists are talking about a "one price law," which says that identical products offered simultaneously, in the same place when prices are clearly seen will go for the same price. This is the marriage supermarket, so this is exactly the situation that women find themselves in. No matter what deals are agreed upon, there will always be one girl left who will offer to join for just one cent. The law of one price says that one percent is what everyone will get: anyone who is on the verge of getting a better offer will be cut under. The nineteen men will receive $ 99.99 each. 19 women will receive a cent each, and the last woman will receive nothing.

This is amazing: a lack of just one man gives all the other men a massive lack of power. But intuition is simple. Only one "residual" woman can provide an external option to any man and impair the bargaining power of any other woman.


This is how it will work in the marriage supermarket. You may have noticed some slight differences in reality. The legal conditions of one price are never perfectly met. The bargaining process is not really calculated, though it is probably just as cruel. Most importantly, because the marriage supermarket measures the benefits of marriage in dollars, these benefits are easily passed from one party to another. In reality, courtship is not as easy to offer against each other as the chances of marriage ("I'll adjust Brian's guarantee to three orgasms a week, and add at least one candlelit dinner") - through the marriage of former Playboy twenty-six-year-old Anna Nicole Smith The 80-year-old billionaire Jay Howard Marshall II (both, unfortunately, now deceased) suggested that there be circumstances in which one spouse to a potential marriage can compensate the other, at least in part, for all the shortcomings he or she has.

Although the supermarket produces overly crude conclusions, even in a more realistic setting, those same basic forces will be games. A seemingly modest shortage of men leads to a surprisingly large disadvantage in women. The dramatic increase in the bargaining power of men harms not only women who do not get married but also those who do. Their potential partners simply have too many options to allow a fair bargain. Later in the chapter we see a striking example by looking at what happens to women when many of the young people who may have been married go to jail instead.

There is another thought experiment in this great abstraction, that when we turn the spotlight on it, we see what strategies the equivalent in the real world can for women in the marriage supermarket to act rationally, given that the cash offer to get a husband cannot '. Does not work so well. Outside the supermarket, you can study in college, start a business, undergo plastic surgery or work out in the gym. In short, there are all sorts of ways you can make yourself more attractive than other boys and girls. Thus, indeed rational women tend to respond to the shortage of men, as we shall see.

To take us there, let's take a step back and ask why Carrie Bradshaw and the girls faced such a shortage of eligible men in New York. There is also a rational explanation for this.

The ancient environment, the African savannah, long ago

Males and females have different approaches to sex and marriage. This is because it takes a female nine months to give birth to a baby, while a male takes about two minutes. This simple biological fact, related to the inevitable power of natural selection, lies behind the popular wisdom that men (and not just human men) are always available for sex. Men generally do not need much persuasion to spend a short time having sex, with a chance of spreading their genes as a result, since they are men of men who did not need much persuasion. For females (not just human females) sex tends to lead to pregnancy, and pregnancy is a serious commitment of time and resources. It is only better to risk pregnancy when time and partner are right, so women have higher standards and take more persuasion. Women are careful because they are the daughters of women who were careful.

Since I am talking now about the evolving biological preferences of men and women and not about their considered opinions, you may think that I am going a long way beyond rational choices. Not at all: these preferences arise from the economic logic of risks, costs and benefits. Robert Trivers, the evolutionary biologist who first explained why men and women have such a different approach to sex, titled his analysis "Investing in Parents and Choosing Sex." His reasoning was explicitly economic, and men’s preferences for indiscriminate sex and women for more careful behavior are irrational not because of conscious choice but because of evolution.

Of course, evolution has also generously bequeathed to us a large brain with the ability to understand, ponder and choose to reject our biological preferences. But we have already seen evidence in this chapter that we seemingly fail to do so completely. At the speed date, as I recall, women were half-risk for men to suggest a follow-up date. In another experiment, famous today, three-quarters of the men approached by a random woman agreed to have sex with her. True, they were students on campus, so maybe they had an extraordinary free spirit. However, no female student agreed to have sex when a random man approached him. Such things only happen in a particular movie genre, or so I am told.

So much for sex - what about marriage? In a foster environment, it can be assumed that a baby with two caring parents had a much better chance of reaching adulthood than a baby whose single parent had to do both the hunting and the gathering. Hence the development of the marital relationship. But what characteristics would men and women look for? Because a woman needed the physical strength to give birth and raise the baby, youth and health - whose beauty is a reliable indicator - would top the list of male desires. We can imagine that the father's role in raising children, in particular, was to provide and protect: perhaps the most capable hunters were most in demand as long-term partners, or the strongest fighters, or the most difficult in forging political alliances. All these qualities were translated into high class. And in the modern age, we have a very reliable indicator of high status: wealth.

In the African savannah, then, our rational male ancestors wanted young and beautiful mates, while our rational ancestors in the maternal line would have preferred high-class men. Have these preferences, like attitudes towards sex, survived to this day? Folk wisdom will certainly say this. In the song "Summertime" from the opera "Forge and Bass" by Gershwin, there is a reason that Bass soothes the baby with the line "Your father is rich and handsome of your mother" and not the other way around. And how often do you hear about a twenty-six-year-old Chipendale marrying an eighty-nine-year-old heiress?

As always, economists are not content with folk wisdom. And fortunately, there is a source of data for resolving all the (well, almost all) controversy on the subject: the success rates of online dating. Economists have studied online dating as much as they learn fast dating, and have found that men attract a lot of answers if their online dating ads require a high income. The opposite is true for women: if a woman claims a high income in an online dating ad, she will indeed get fewer answers than if she were claiming a modest income. It's official: rich men are running and rich women are turning.

Maybe you do not think that online dating responses are really a window to the soul. You may be right, but there are other sources of evidence. If like George Gershwin, evolutionary biologists, and Internet computers, women are particularly interested in pampering themselves for a rich man, then we must probably find many women in places where there are many rich people: that is, in cities. Because men are not interested in marrying someone with high earning power, the good marriage chances in cities are less of an attraction for men than for women. With the rise in rents, it will be the unskilled men who give up and move to the country before the unskilled women do so - or will never bother to move to cities.

The economist behind this idea is Lena Edlund from Columbia University. She explained the consequences to me. First, men will always be in smaller cities than in rural areas. In forty-four of the forty-seven states surveyed by Adlond, they are. (In the three exceptions, sex is equal in cities and rural areas.) Within the United States, you find the same pattern in major cities. In Washington, D.C., the number of women is nine to eight. New York has 860,000 men in their twenties and thirties, but there are 910,000 women. (Carrie Bradshaw's numbers were different, but then she included interns.) There are more men, in rural states: Alaska, Utah, and Colorado.

Another implication of Adlond's theory is that since unskilled men are likely to move away from cities, unskilled urban jobs that can be easily performed by both sexes tend to be done by women. (Waiting? Secretarial work? There is nothing natural, or historically, in these works.) And we would also expect to find that the higher the male income, the greater the supply - how to put it? Reserve women. This is exactly what Edlund reveals in a detailed study of Sweden: Areas with high salaries for men are areas where many women live, especially young women. Consciously or not, it seems that many women have decided that they would rather compete for poor rich men than move to a place where males are poorer but abundant. The women in Manhattan may be constantly grumbling about the lack of married men in the city, but it is their rational choice not to move to live in Alaska.

It's not just by geography that the marriage markets in the United States are fragmented: who you marry does indeed depend on where you live, but also how old you are and what race you are. Most people marry people of the same race, age, and region. Ninety-six percent of married black women have black husbands and over 96 percent of married white women have white husbands.

What could cause an imbalance in some of these local marriage markets? We have seen that an imbalance in cities can be caused by unskilled young people rationally deciding to give up and move to the country or stay there in the first place. But another major reason men are absent from local marriage markets is jail. There are two million men in U.S. prisons and only one hundred thousand women; and the men in prison are unevenly distributed across age, race, and geography. A huge number of young black men are in prison, and that could be a problem for the young black women who might otherwise be married. May also be a problem for women of other races and in other countries - but only if there are women who were inclined and able to jump from a marriage market where men are poor to where they are in abundance. This does not seem to happen often enough to undo the shortage.

In New Mexico, for example, 30 percent of young black men, aged twenty to thirty-five, are in prison (or, less commonly, in a secure mental institution). This is an extreme case, but there are thirty-two countries with more than ten young blacks in prison and ten countries where one in six young blacks are behind bars. This is a serious matter for young black women. In the marriage supermarket, even one missing man puts every woman in a weak bargaining position. Does this translate into real life?

Yes Aldon’s, according to economists Carvin Kofi Charles and Ming-Qing Lu. When a large number of a particular racial group is in prison, women of the same age and race in the same country do not enjoy the benefits of marriage or a stable relationship, that women are in a more equal position.

In the marriage supermarket, a weak bargaining position means that women have to bribe men in order to marry them. In life, another option is open: women can try to increase their attractiveness as a chance for marriage. Charles and Loho show that young black women dealing with men’s shortages are doing just that. The more men who are in prison, the more likely women are to get a job, the more likely they are to go to college. People with a college education are more likely to marry other people who are college-educated, so education not only makes you smarter, but it wins you over a smart husband or wife.

Improving their bargaining position in the marriage market is, of course, not the only plausible reason for these decisions. Because the high incarceration rates of young black men mean that young black women are less likely to marry, an academic degree Work seems like a rational investment for a single girl who cannot trust a partner as a source of income. Moreover, the likelihood that young black women will not marry is greatly exacerbated by a trend that the simple marriage supermarket could not demonstrate, but this will not surprise an evolutionary biologist: young black men who are not in prison usually seem to take advantage of their strong bargaining position by not bothering to marry at all.

Charles and Loho are able to test this statistically because they have data on all fifty states and 1980, 1990 and 2000 censuses. They are therefore able to compare the situation of women at different times and places, taking into account the background trends in whichthey change across the country and decade after decade. They estimate, for example, that a one percent increase in the rate of young blacks in prison reduces the rate of black women ever married by three percentage points. In countries where 20 or 25 percent of available men are in prison, very young black women will not marry. The impact is even more dramatic for uneducated women, as women tend to mate with men of similar education and uneducated men may end up in jail.

There are many African-American single mothers around, and some commentators tend to blame this fact on "black culture" - no matter what that phrase may be. But “black culture” does not explain why single mothers are disproportionately in countries where many young black men are in prison. The economy does it: The bargaining power of women is severely implanted from the imprisonment of potential husbands. The more educated guys stay out of jail and are smart enough to realize that with the competition locked, they don’t have to get married to have fun. "Culture" is not an explanation; That women respond rationally to a difficult situation is a much better situation.

If these seem like very big effects, think again of the marriage supermarket: even a small shortage of married men puts every woman at a disadvantage since every single woman is able to provide competition to many women who end up getting married. The shortage of men does not have to be great to be a big problem for women.

Although these are mostly uneducated men who end up in jail, Charles and Loho show that women's bargaining power is so weakened that in the end, no less, they will "marry" - that is, marry men who are less educated than they are. So, there is another reason young black women put more effort into getting a degree and a job: even if they did find a husband, we could understand that they were worried that he would not be a quality husband. Maybe they could not trust him to stay around and be a reliable father or supplier to the household. As the song goes, the nurses do it for themselves - but not, in this case, for very encouraging reasons.

It is a common observation that the birth control pill has brought about great changes in society. But when most people hear this, they probably think the effects were mainly due to the fact that the parties at the colleges are becoming much more enjoyable. In fact, rational responses to the pill had remarkably similar effects to responses resulting from the incarceration of a significant portion of the male population.

What is the similarity? Both are heating up competition among women in the marriage market. Young black men who stay out of jail in a place like New Mexico rarely get married, which is probably because they realize they do not have to get married to have sex. The birth control pill also makes it easier for men to have sex outside of marriage. The logic of evolutionary psychology says that women should be pickyabout who they have sex with because pregnancy in the wrong circumstances is extremely expensive - but the logic of a woman who has control over reliable contraception is completely different. The preferences shaped by evolution still greatly affect our instincts, and many women remain extremely picky and refuse to have sex outside of marriage. But others, armed with the pill, decide they can afford to enjoy it a little more.

Elected ones are unlucky: the existence of other women who are a little freer with their favors weakens the bargaining power of the Madonnas, meaning that men have less incentive to get married. Some men will not bother at all and will feel that they can get everything they want from a Playboy lifestyle. Or they may delay marriage until middle age, reduce the pool of married men and increase male bargaining power.

As we have seen, the rational response is that women will go to college, which brings both better chances in the job market and better chances in the marriage market. Meanwhile, the more women are able to take care of children alone, the fewer men have to bother. This is a free-riding textbook case: with women with higher education in excess supply, Men realized that they could have sex, and even have successful offspring, without ever moving further away from the armchair and chips. Statistics seem to illustrate this. Today, four American women graduate from university for every three men, and this is not a particularly American phenomenon: in fifteen of the seventeen rich countries for which data are available, more women graduate than men. The most educated male generation in the United States was born just after World War II and graduated in the mid-1960s - the men’s graduation classes took care of that later, and have yet to return to that peak. The point of view of rational choice implies that it is probably no coincidence that this decline occurred approximately when women were holding the contraceptive pill.

Women's rational responses to the pill have brought about other socially far-reaching changes. The ability to delay, and to some extent control, the timing of their pregnancies also allowed women to plan their careers in a new way: instead of rushing back to work after having children, they could decide to postpone their departure. It has made it rational to invest in career training with a long training period, such as law, medicine, or dentistry. Women’s enrollment in law and medical schools skyrocketed as the pill became available, as women knew they could qualify and establish a career without becoming a nun.

Delaying motherhood means large income gains for educated women, because of the size economy in education and work rewards those who spend a lot of time in college and then work many hours early in their careers. For every year a woman delays her first child, her life profits go up by 10 percent. Of course, whoever is delaying having children may earn more simply because her career is her top priority, but you can bypass the statistical minefield by looking at women who because of miscarriages or accidental pregnancies have no children while they were selected. These random disasters, which mean women giving birth to babies sooner or later than they do, point in the same direction: a one-year delay adds about a tenth to life profits.

The pill also means that women feel more able to postpone marriage - why rush? They could enjoy sex and a career without rushing to get married. And the more intelligent women are delayed in harnessing, the more intelligent men will float, regardless. The dating scene has become a more interesting place to dip in and out of for about a decade, and the risk of “staying on the shelf” has plummeted. The fewer people jumped in the aisle; the less others needed to hurry. It seemed like a cultural change, but it had rational roots.

Another side effect was seen in the expectations of mentors and potential employers. They had more confidence that women would not give up their training or career because of an accidental pregnancy; That increased confidence has resulted in more women being given a fair chance in the workplace. This, too, was not just a blink of an eye raised by employers: it was a rational response to a world that had changed.

As we are about to see, the pill also contributes to a rational explanation for a recent social phenomenon and has been much discussed in the last fifty years: skyrocketing divorce rates. To determine the scene for that discussion, we need to move from rational thinking about the competition to partners and start thinking rationally about what happens next. Once you've found yourself a spouse - or decided you would rather stay single - how do you run the household? What does a family economist think? To answer these questions, we must take a short detour to an eighteenth-century staple factory. Kirkaldi, Scotland, 1776

Adam Smith, the father of modern economics, traveled throughout Europe as a teacher to the Duke of Buckleuch. (His employer was the Duke's stepfather, British Chancellor Charles Townshend, a man who placed a political time bomb by imposing tea debts on America and appointing a customs commissioner in Boston.) But despite his travels, Adam Smith never visited a staple factory. While sitting at home in Kirkcaldy and garnering the most famous section in economics, he was inspired by an encyclopedia entry. The section is just as important for that.

Smith claimed to be a general practitioner who turned his hand to the staple manufacturing business

Could have saved, perhaps, in his fullest industry, to make one pin a day, and certainly could not have made twenty. But the way this business is run now, not only is the whole job a strange trade, but it is divided into a number of branches, the greater part of which is also a strange business. One person pulls out the wire, another straightens it, a third cuts it, a fourth straightens it, a fifth grinds it in the head to get the head...

Smith thought that ten special pin manufacturers used equipment designed and built by Experts, could produce forty-eight thousand pins a day. Ten general craftsmen can produce one pin each. In the "trivial" business of staple manufacturing, a fairly initial division of labor has doubled a person's output nearly five thousand times. From the point of view of rational choice, division of labor is not an interesting thing.

The division of labor is absolutely essential to the wealth we enjoy in modern economies. It is impossible to imagine complicated products, like the computer on which I type this paragraph, without the combined cumulative efforts of countless experts who have worked on how to create integrated circuits or how to control the computer with a mouse and pointing at the screen. Most of those experts could not boil an egg, let alone survive alone on a desert island. They depend on other people's expertise if only the expertise of the cooks at the local Chinese meeting and computer users around the world depend on them.

Even simple products like the short cappuccino I have will be impossible without the division of labor. Is there anyone in the world who has mastered the ceramics, dairy farming, and art of perfect espresso roasting? I was bent over by someone who had two out of three.

This is all very well, but what's the connection to marriage? There is not much reason to think that Adam Smith devoted much thought to the matter. Single, he lives with his mother. Marriage, however, was once the basic way to earn a labor dispute. Before there were developed markets for something big, and long before ordering a cappuccino, men and women were able to enjoy some of the profits from the labor dispute by marriage, specialization, and sharing. Back in the savannah, one may hunt and the other may gather. In the past, one could be good at plowing and sewing while another would specialize in cooking and home repairs. Nothing in Adam Smith's story suggests a division of labor according to traditional sexual roles, but make no mistake: the family has rational roots. This is the oldest staple factory of all.

In the 1950s those traditional sexual roles were essential in the division of labor within marriage. The ideal husband specialized in bread prizes, education, good work, working all the hours needed to earn a promotion and got more and more drunk to provide the family with a car, a refrigerator, a nice house in the suburbs, and frequent vacations. His adoring wife specialized in housework, cooking, cleaning, entertaining, raising children to be smart and healthy, and caring for her husband’s emotional and sexual needs.

That was the idea, at least, and in 1965 the average married woman worked less than fifteen hours a week in paid work. For the typical woman, mother at home, it would be zero hours. The average is attracted by empty and very poor nests. Meanwhile, the average married man worked over fifty hours a week. The roles were carefully reversed for domestic work: married women worked nearly forty hours a week of non-market work, men less than ten. It was a fine division of labor, and it was a division of labor in sexually distorted lines.

It was Gary Becker - evading parking fees and the rational champion of slot machines - who showed the implications of Adam Smith's staple factory for marriage in the modern age. How did the division of labor become so sexually curved? The answer was the interaction between three economic forces: division of labor, economies of scale, and comparative advantage.

As Becker knew, the division of labor works because it releases size savings. In Standard English, one full-time employee earns more than two part-time employees. This is usually true for the most basic jobs, but much more so for the most demanding jobs. How many top lawyers do half a degree in law and then work two weeks of twenty hours? How many successful business executives work only on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings? And senior earners, at the height of a long and full career, earn much, much more than those in the half of their careers. This is a hard truth about the world of work that for many professionals, the more jobs you have done in the past, the more productive each hour of work becomes: a perfect example of scale savings.

This means that a household where both parents work part-time in their careers and part-time after the children and the home does not make economic sense. Two halves are much less than the whole. Scale economies dictate that logically, one spouse must apply for a full-time job. The other must work at home and only work with money if there is free time after household chores.

So far this is the classic Smith man. Where did the traditional gender roles of the 1950s come from? Becker pointed out the implications of the Third Economic Power, The principle of comparative advantage. A comparative advantage means that the division of labor is controlled not by the most productive in any absolute sense, but in the relative sense. In Adam Smith's pampering, if worker Elizabeth can sharpen two pins per minute and assemble four pins per minute on paper, while worker James can sharpen one pin per minute and assemble one pin per minute on paper, the logic of relative advantage says that James should be sharpening pins, though That Elizabeth does the job faster. The relevant comparison is not whether Elizabeth sharpens pins faster than James but whether, relative to him, she sharpens pins faster than she puts them down on paper.

Imagine that James and Elizabeth are married; Now replace paper mounting pins with baby care. Elizabeth is a more productive worker than James but also a more efficient parent. James is a worse worker but a worse dad, so Elizabeth makes the rational decision to stay home to bake cookies and keep the kids while James tries to scrape a living as a real estate agent. The logic of the comparative advantage underscores something most men - except economists - have a hard time getting around Their head: There's no reason to believe that men were earning a living because they were good at it. Maybe they were just earning a living because getting them to help around the house was even worse.

Gary Becker's contribution was not to suggest that women give birth to good parents, but to understand that because of scale savings even a very small difference in innate abilities can lead to titanic differences in the way men spend their time. A small difference in relative expertise between men and women will suffice to result in a sharp division of labor between traditional sexual roles. This difference could be due to biological differences, due to socialization, or due to discrimination against women in the workplace - most likely all three. Instead of arguing for any particular explanation, Becker showed that the difference does not have to be large for it to have large effects.

In the late 1970s, Gary Becker was a widower and single parent, devoting all his intellectual energy to a treatise on the family, published in 1981. (Happy footnote: he remarried shortly before the treatise was published.) One of his goals. Was to understand what was happening to the institution of marriage. Divorce rates have doubled over the past two decades, both in the United States and in many European countries. It was clear that the world of marriage had changed dramatically.

Some commentators have blamed the changes in the divorce law on the trend: Ronald Reagan, then California governor, signed a bill that introduced "no-fault" divorce in 1969, meaning any spouse can simply walk away from the marriage demanding a divorce. Other countries followed suit. But Becker knew this could not be the answer: if the husband wanted a divorce to run away with his mistress, a guilt-free divorce would not make it easier for him to do it, just cheaper. Before a no-fault divorce, he had to get his wife’s consent, which might mean higher alimony. This reasoning indicates that no divorce regulation will result in a change in divorce rates at all. The only thing that would change was who paid whom to get the divorce. And certainly, although there has been a brief jump in divorce rates because innocent divorce has made it possible to process the divorce accrual more quickly, the legislation does not seem to have yielded more than a beating with a strong and steady upward trend.

Instead, the divorce revolution was driven by a more basic economic force: the dismantling of the traditional division of labor identified by Adam Smith. At the beginning of the twentieth-century housework lasted many hours, and only the poorest and most desperate married women had jobs. As the decades passed, technological change made housework at least a long time. It has become easy - and quite common - for older women to enter the workforce after their children have grown up and housework has become more manageable.

Once the divorce rates began to climb, it was no surprise that they grew dramatically. At work there was a loop that strengthened itself rationally: the more people divorced, the more divorced you could meet - that is, potential spouses for marriage. This meant it was easier to divorce yourself and find a new partner.

Moreover, from the moment the divorce began to occur, women knew they could no longer think of themselves as one part of an economic unit. Rationality, as I recall, is about thinking ahead and responding to incentives. Realizing that the economic unit could fall apart, and at this point, a woman who simply specialized in having children would be in serious trouble, it became rational for a woman to keep career options as divorce insurance. In the world of labor division of the 1950s, married women were unfortunately rational to emphasize this: they had few alternatives. But like more Older women who found work, managing their housework more quickly with the help of washing machines and electric irons, women began to realize that there was an alternative to unhappy marriages. Divorce was still financially difficult but it was no longer an economic suicide. Then came the birth control pill, making women - as we have seen - more educated, career-oriented, and employer-friendly.

Did women really need career options before they got divorced? In all but the most miserable marriages, they did. In contrast to the popular bromine murmurs of divorced men, foods alone do not economically alienate women. Less than half of single divorced mothers receive any alimony at all, and for those who do so child support is only a few thousand dollars a year, usually about one-fifth of the mother’s total income. If a woman, especially a mother, was determined to divorce, she almost always had to find a job. More and more women have realized that they have the ability to do just that.

It started a second strengthening loop (some people see it as a vicious circle). Because the divorce was plausible, women kept career options. But because women had career options, divorce became conceivable. It has become less and less likely that a woman will be trapped in an unhappy marriage out of pure economic need.

A closer look at the statistics backs up this story. Even today, when so many women work for the fun or enjoyment of spending cash, women tend to work harder when they are at higher risk for divorce. There are several ways to guess at the same higher risk: you can look back on who actually divorced and assume that the woman involved may have seen it coming before; You can look at variables such as age, religion, and parents who have been divorced; Or you can ask women how happy they are with their marriage. Whichever way you deploy it, women at risk of divorce are more likely to go out to work. The increase in divorce is not due to a change in the psychology of love: it is a rational response to changing incentives.

The changing incentives have also changed the way couples conduct themselves within the relationship. In states that instituted divorce “without guilt,” while divorce rates did not show a steady increase, women knew that their husbands could stay away from the marriage without having to buy the agreement with a generous party deal. It made it more dangerous to commit to the relationship: more dangerous to have children, more dangerous to support a financially through school, and more dangerous to be a housewife while the center focused on his career. Economist Betsy Stevenson examined this question through a research approach that should now be familiar, looking at the timing of the new law, state by state. And she found that when states filed for divorce without guilt and thus gave the husband a slight escape from the marriage, women were less likely to work while their husbands went through school, but more likely to work full-time and have fewer children. All of these effects were quite large; In each of these decisions, between 5% and 10% of women changed their behavior as the law changed.

A young woman in the early 1970s faced a different world from that her mother had lived in two decades earlier. She could see that career opportunity had opened up for women, and there were jobs available if she wanted them. She could also see that divorce rates were rising and she should not, if she was smart, simply rely on a husband to provide her with income, since an extreme division of labor was not too safe for divorce age. Other women her age married later, meaning there were more men to date and the marriage could be postponed. To sum it all up, she had access to a safe and reliable way to reject the children until she was ready to accept them, meaning she could plan a long education and a few years to establish a serious and powerful career.

This analysis links divorce, the pill, and the growing power of women in the workplace in a reinforcing loop. But it would be wrong to "blame" an increase in divorce rates on anincrease in women's professional achievement. After all, there is no evidence that people are not happier with their marriage than in 1950. The opposite may be true because when they are unhappy with their marriage, they can do something about it. An influential study by economists Andrew Oswald and Jonathan Gardner reveal that divorcee, unlike widows and widowers, are happier a year after the end of their marriage than they were still married.

Perhaps a more positive way to articulate the trend is that women’s entry into a powerful career has given them the option to divorce if the marriage doesn’t work out, and recognizing that this option is important is one of the factors that encourage women. Entering a powerful career. It may sound a bit abstract, but economists Betsy Stevenson and Justin Wolpers have set a chilling example of how the increased availability of divorce has empowered women. When states passed divorce laws without guilt, women acquired a trusted threat to get out of the marriage. (Statistics show that many of them did not, in fact. But the threat is enough.) Stevenson Wolpers show that the new laws had an unexpected - but rational - effect: by allowing women to leave, they gave to men. Stronger incentives to behave well within marriage. The result? Domestic violence dropped by nearly a third, and the number of women murdered by their spouses dropped by 10 percent. Suicide rates among women have also dropped. It is a reminder that the binding commitment of marriage has costs as well as benefits.

Agreements that we should celebrate divorce soon. First, we must acknowledge that a divorce is no longer an option. It's rational. The peak of divorce in the 1970s was not caused, fundamentally, by legal changes but by changes in the basic family life economy, changes that reduced the incentives to get married.

In the long run, the rational response is not for couples to get married early and get married often; It is to divorce less and marry less. Now that the marriage stock has been destroyed in the divorce, romantic couples are moving from the blossoming of the marriage and divorce to a more stable arrangement in which the marriage is delayed until couples are more confident in themselves. And they may be delayed indefinitely - two of the leading economic researchers in the field, Stevenson Wolpers, have been a romantic couple for ten years and remain unmarried.

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While the divorce rate has been falling for the past three decades, it's a shame it's falling too far. Justin Wolpers comments: "We know there is something called an optimal divorce rate, and we are one hundred percent sure it is not zero."

Only an economist could put it this way, but it makes sense. Marriage is an unclear step and sometimes couples find that they made the right choice. Earlier in the, I compared finding a partner and finding a job. Going back to that analogy, we know that a job market where no one could stop or fire would not work particularly well: too many people would find themselves trapped in jobs they were unable or unwilling to do. The marriage market is not that different.

Some people long to return to the stable and traditional marriage of the 1950s, even if it means a stronger division of labor between the sexes again. They would do well to remember what Adam Smith wrote about the excessive division of labor:

For a man whose whole life is invested in performing a few simple actions ... he has no opportunity to exercise his understanding or realize his invention in order to find benefit in removing difficulties that never occur. He ... usually becomes as stupid and ignorant as a human being can be.

Smith's argument applies equally to ironing and baking cookies, despite the use of the masculine pronoun. The division of labor creates wealth but can make our diverse lives easier. The serious entry of married women into the labor force has resulted in them spending a little less time baking cookies, and perhaps also in having their husbands spend a little more time with the children. It has empowered women to leave unmarried marriages, making them happier and safer from abuse. It really was a revolution, and the price of this revolution is divorce and less marriage. This price is very real - but it is almost certainly a price worth paying.


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