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Alpha Male The Quantity Inelasticity Of Female Demand

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Bloggiversary celebrant Badger emails an interesting pair of economics-related questions concerning Game:

1. Is there a term for a good that is absolutely limited in quantity, in the sense that only a portion of those who want it can get one of them? I'm thinking of the fact that there are only so many guys who meet all the female checklist requirements (tall, in shape, interesting job, cool hobbies, can stimulate her daily, impresses her friends, owns the room, etc).

2. I'm curious if there's an econ paradigm for a good that, as it becomes scarce, causes people to become more selective and concerned about its quality rather than simply seeking to grab it as the price pressures rise.

As you know, we have environs like American colleges where the male-female ratio is distinctly female-heavy. To a man unversed in game and psychological economics, he might think this is good for guys; the supply-demand pressures would mean women would have to pair up with guys down the ladder or they'd be resigned to singleness.

But this doesn't appear to be happening. Instead, women get even more anxious with their checklists and concerned about grabbing a top man. We know from the numbers that the number of male virgins in college is growing, not shrinking. So obviously women are even more strongly preferring to sample (and if necessary, share) the apex.

The way I explain this is that the odds of getting a man, any man, are lower when there are fewer men, and so they want to make the most of their limited opportunity by optimizing even more aggressively. Essentially they are swinging for the fences in fewer at-bats. The 80-20 rule appears to scale linearly: fewer men equals fewer top men for women to lust for. Cf. the NYT article where the UNC sorority girl said "half the guys we wouldn't even consider."

We do have two related moderating influences:

-The fact that boys are being raised to not be sexually aggressive, taking them out of the equation. I don't think this is a sufficient explanation, since unattractive men who are sexually aggressive don't get girls but are instead labeled creepy.

-The fact that female-heavy campuses are themselves constructed of feminist tropes and friendly to female sensibilities, which causes women to seek a respite from the institutional pedestalization through the of a flippantly alpha man. (Such is the paradox of feminism: women who are control freaks, who desperately want a man to take control, but can't admit that without offending the feminist sisterhood).

The basic economics term that is relevant to the first question is "scarcity" and it is expressed in the form of a supply curve. However, since one is not presently permitted to acquire women by exchanging money for them, it's not possible to apply the conventional supply-demand curve here utilizing price as the the Y-axis. But since we're talking economics and not finance, the core concepts still apply neverthless, only instead of price, we're talking about the various attributes that women value. As a man's collective ability to "pay", or to be more precise, his sum total of female-valued attributes, goes up, the overall quantity of women available to him increases. In economics terms, a change in price causes movement along the supply curve.

Thus the man who ups his Game or signs a big record contract, or is named a starting quarterback sees his "price" go from P2 to P1, his pool of interested women increases from Q1 quantity to Q2, and therefore the ability to score a Y-quality woman instead of being limited to an X-rated woman. Personally, I'd reverse the X and Y assignations in this specific application, but never mind that.

As for the second, I'm going to attempt to answer what I suspect to be the real question underlying the somewhat nebulous question that was actually posed. What I "think" Badger is attempting to get at is to learn if there is an economic concept describing when the simple intersection of S-D curves and movement along them according to changes in quantity is insufficient to explain what he is observing in the current, female-heavy collegiate sexual marketplaces. As it happens, there are two that are potentially valid here, and the first is known as "conspicuous consumption", a concept first articulated by Thorstein Veblen.

This was the attempt to explain why the demand curve for some goods actually increases as the price goes up, or if you prefer, why certain market behaviors don't follow the conventional downward sloping demand curve as shown below. Such products are also known as Giffen Goods. Stocks are one example, collectible trading cards and art is another. (Remember, since we're discussing men, the "price" now refers to attractive female attributes, not male ones.)

"Conspicuous consumption rather than conventional movement along the demand curve is clearly applicable in the collegiate marketplace, since not only does a lower price not" increase the quantity demanded, but an intrinsic part of the value of a high-status man for a woman is the validation of her own sex rank that her acquisition of one, however temporary, conveys to her and others. Hence the oft-observed phenomenon of the 6 who thinks she is an 8 because she once attracted the attention of a slumming male 9.

But conspicuous consumption only explains the increased valuation ascribed to men as their price increases, it does not explain the lack of female interest in lower status men despite increasing scarcity that would normally be expected to cause movement along the demand curve increasing the price as quantity decreases. To here, we need to turn to the concept of "elasticity". Price elasticity describes how susceptible demand is to changes in price. Gasoline, for example, is relatively inelastic since people have to drive to work regardless of whether gas costs 2 or 4 per gallon. Demand for airline travel is relatively elastic, since the price of a ticket plays a large role in whether one decides to take a vacation that requires a flight or not.

But in this case, it's not the variance in price that is proving irrelevant to demand, but rather, the variance in quantity. So, one could reasonably describe the unusual economic behavior of the current collegiate sexual marketplace as being an example of "the quantity inelasticity of demand".

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