Haven’t you always that we all – men and women – would like to be having more sex than they actually are. I get disappointed when I see stats about the paltry amount of time most couples, especially those in established relationships, spend having sex. Surely something as pleasurable as sex must be worth more than a few stolen dalliances a month.
It turns out we do want more sex. A lot more. For women, 106 minutes every day in fact. Economists have proven it.
Bear with me through this paragraph — Economics works on the theory that we allocate our time and our money efficiently; when given an additional minute or dollar we will use that in a way that maximize the pleasure (or utility as economists say) that can be derived from this additional dollar or minute. This drives our whole market system. Businesses decide whether to hire an additional employee based on whether one more employee will provide more pleasure (profit) than pain (cost); if an individual has an extra 5 dollars at the end of a work week, she decides whether she would get more pleasure from saving the extra 5 dollars towards retirement or buying a latte. Similarly, when we have extra time, we allocate it to where that additional amount of time we have will maximize our happiness, thus the emerging economic studies in the economics of happiness. How we value immediate pleasure versus delayed gratification varies by individual, but it is a constant calculation we are making.
As an economist would say – we seek to maximize utility at the margin. And by doing this, we will allocate all of our resources – time and money – in a way that optimizes our utility/pleasure. Boring, academic stuff, but it really works.
So an academic study of women in Texas asked them to record all of their daily activities and record a ‘pleasure factor’ to each. Not surprisingly, things like commuting ranked really low even in the contact of knowing it was necessary to earn a livelihood. Sex rated highest. When the economists conducting the study ran their numbers, they found that the optimal, pleasure maximizing allocation would have women in the study spending 106 minutes a day having sex (and less than 30 minuets commuting).
I understand that real life gets in the say and that responsibility sometimes trumps pleasure, but isn’t it nice to know that, if they could, women would want it that much.