Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Sex ratio on college campuses

The Times Sunday Magazine includes an article about a shortage of eligible men on college campuses that's a fun read. Probably the most controversial issue it raises is whether a relative shortage of men that empowers them in the dating market leads to an equilibrium of relationships that are on terms more favorable to men. Some of the academics quoted in the article seem to want to blame the sex ratio for changing the nature of college dating, toward more commitment, since it might seem reasonable for men rather than women to prefer that.

That's a tempting explanation, but I'm not so sure I'm sold. Enrolling in college is certainly costly, but if the college dating market were so much more favorable to men, why wouldn't more men jump in to take advantage of it and correct the sex imbalance? To me, it's also a little telling that one of the anecdotes in the article is about a male in college who laments the "hook-up" culture and has apparently eschewed it.