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Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Language of the Ivory Tower

I love the Becker-Posner blog because it has two great economic minds debating or agreeing with each other on various topics, which makes for fascinating reading. Part of Posner's latest post regarding AIDS in Africa, however, made me chuckle (and wince) a bit.

He writes:
"The causes [of the AIDS epidemic in Africa] include profound ignorance about the disease (due in part to superstition and in any event an aspect of much broader deficiencies in education and literacy), miserable living conditions and short life expectancy which reduce aversion to risky behavior, migrant male labor that increases the demand for paid sex, cultural traditions of male promiscuity, female circumcision (a risk factor for HIV), and the extremely low status of women that drives many of them into prostitution and reduces their ability to bargain effectively with men over safe sex, to which men are more averse than women. Underlying all these things is the extreme poverty of most sub-Saharan countries..."

Only an economist, or judge with strong Chicago-school knowledge of econ, would refer to the male over-riding the female on the decision to use condoms etc as a lack of "effective bargaining."

Just what would effective bargaining for condoms etc entail?:

guy: oh that's so hot, keep doing it
girl: you like it?
guy: wait what are you doing, I don't wanna use that
girl: I just wanna be safe sweety
guy: but it feels weird
girl: I'll rub your feet later?
guy: Hmm, that's a decent proposition, but I'm not completely sold
girl: I could also go to that football game like you've been asking me to
guy: What about the foot rub, the game, and maybe we get to have sex later this afternoon
girl: I'm afraid the costs of all that exceed the benefit of using a condom - my utility preferences at this point is to not have intercourse with you at all
guy: That seems sub-optimal. Alright, you don't have to go to the game or give me a foot rub -
just some marginal sex this afternoon
girl: I dunno babe, we've been bargaining so long now that it's already dinner time.

How's that for the Ivory Tower ?

1 comment:

Scott said...

Lol, nice. I forwarded this to my economist pal in law school.