“Supply, Demand, and the Rise of the Man-Child” describes how our society has changed from past to present. I don’t know when the inflection point happened but I would guess it to be in the 70s,
Consider a traditional society where all the men sell their labor and all the women keep house. You might think there’s only one market, but there are actually two: The labor market and the mating market. Men use their wages to supplement their masculine charms (if any) when they woo. In the labor market, the compensation that employers offer workers adjusts to balance the supply and demand for labor. In the mating market, the quality of life that men offer women adjusts to balance the supply and demand for women.*
Thrown down buddy,
Next question: What happens if we move this model into the modern world? Specifically, what happens in the mating market when women start earning money of their own? The obvious answer is just to flip the initial model around. If higher wages for men lead to higher quality of life for women, we’d expect higher wages for women to lead to higher quality of life for men. And what do most men see as a “higher quality of life”? Among other things: Less commitment, lower maturity, and lower expectations of financial support. In short, the chance to be a man-child.
Feminists wanted women to be able to earn their own money, which they can now do (and that is good, because we should remove structural barriers that prevent entire classes of people from competing for whatever it is they want). But that has consequences and in the aggregate changes the preferences of women
The upshot: Women’s demand for men isn’t just higher than ever; the composition of their demand has changed. Income and income potential still matter. But women now focus more on looks, machismo, coolness, and other “alpha” traits. Holding charisma constant, working harder just doesn’t attract women the way it used to. The result: Less desirable men often give up on women altogether – further tilting the effective male/female ratio in favor of the remaining men. And both kinds of men act like boys: The less desirable men have little to lose, and the more desirable men can get away with it.
When women have zero labor income, you’d expect them to care a lot about men’s income. They might even marry men they loathe to get a roof over their heads. As women’s income rises, however, women can afford to focus more on men’s non-pecuniary traits.
Caplan has already done the analysis. It is important to learn how you should adjust your own behavior based on prevailing conditions. Today, families and government make sure that women are fed, clothed, and housed to their satisfaction. The model Caplan offers has important implication for guys who are debating how to invest their limited time, money, energy, and other resources. All of us face trade-offs and our lives are defined by scarcity. What we do with scarce resources defines us.
Many guys have been told by their parents, society, or women that if they play by the “rules,” which are not readily articulated but add up to something like respect rules and authority, get a good education and then a good job and then everything will happen for you. But a lot of guys want first and foremost hot sex with hot women and many guys are surprised when the rules and guidelines they’re taught don’t lead to hot sex with hot women, while a lot of guys who naturally discard those rules and focus on sports and popularity get a lot of action.
Guys see scumbags getting laid all over and they start to realize that being an okay guy in an okay job isn’t that desirable to most women. WTF? What happened?
Guys who try to follow the old script get frustrated. Being a plodding, reliable, good earner isn’t enough most of the time. Women can earn money for themselves easily and even those who can’t still often prefer thrilling bad boys over stolid reliable dudes with average jobs, average bodies, and average personalities. Women will settle for those guys when they get older and/or can’t get commitment from guys who turn them on.
As a guy, you need to think about what you want. If you want more sex, you need to invest in body, wit, pleasure, and hedonism over job, conventional worker-based status, and stability. Choose a job that pays a little less for a little less work over a job that pays more but leaves you stunted, exhausted, and too tired to get laid (what are you working so hard for, anyway? Unless you make real big $$$$$ women won’t care anyway. Don’t you know that you can’t buy her love? I think that is even true.)
I will not tell you to discard any job or career focus. That is a mistake too and many scumbags come to ill ends or cannot keep going forever. But scumbags often get laid more and good guys who allocate their efforts poorly often do poorly with women. They end up working and being taxed to death so that single moms with poor impulse control and judgment can easily have children out of wedlock with random dudes. This leads to “Radicalizing the Romanceless” outcomes
Or to spell it out very carefully, Henry clearly has no trouble attracting partners. He’s been married five times and had multiple extra-marital affairs and pre-marital partners, many of whom were well aware of his past domestic violence convictions and knew exactly what they were getting into. Meanwhile, here I was, twenty-five years old, never been on a date in my life, every time I ask someone out I get laughed at, I’m constantly teased and mocked for being a virgin and a nerd whom no one could ever love, starting to develop a serious neurosis about it.
And here I was, tried my best never to be mean to anyone, pursued a productive career, worked hard to help all of my friends. I didn’t think I deserved to have the prettiest girl in school prostrate herself at my feet. But I did think I deserved to not be doing worse than Henry.
Be more like Henry and less like Dan. These guys can be called “man-children,” as Caplan does, or they can be called “guys who have responded to incentives and realized that incentives reward hedonism while punishing everyone else.” Women don’t care that much about income, especially for short-term relationships, so guys should maximize the shit women do care about (if they want to get laid). Watch what women do (and who they have sex with) versus what they say (and who they don’t have sex with). Action is all.
Be a fun-loving bad boy with lots of lovers and a good solid squat and good dancing skills over the stolid guy sitting in a cubicle somewhere.