Sex, Drugs, and Economics" –A Book Review:
Despite economists’ frequent use of graphs and figures in justifying their theories and predictions, economics has never been either an exact or an abstract science. Economics attempts to describe patterns of human behavior and human choices that often seem unpredictable and irrational, unless these choices are closely examined in their specific context. Diane Coyle’s book Sex, Drugs, and Economics uses examples as far-reaching as the sex industry, illegal drugs, and sports, as well as other unlikely sources such as the behavior of modern teenagers and popular music, to illustrate such basic economic concepts as supply and demand. Coyle suggests that, as economics attempts to explain human behavior and buying patterns virtually every sphere of human life can be drawn from when one wishes to illustrate basic economic concepts. Economics also is helpful to make apparently inexplicable aspects of human life clearer, such as why persons engage in risky activities more as teens than during other periods of their life, or why people chose to take illegal drugs. Coyle begins her book with perhaps the most unpredictable and irrational aspect of human life of all—sex. She asks, from a supply-side point of view, why do sex workers ask such high prices for their trade and eschew bargain prices? Theoretically, competition should keep wages low. But, like “competitive athletes and bond salesmen,” sex workers know their careers are likely to be short-lived. (4) Thus, all wage costs in the sex industry, tend to be quite high, making prices fairly inelastic. Also, the supply of labor is inelastic, as not all persons are willing to make themselves available for hire in the sex industry for moral reasons, or are able to ‘sell themselves’ for aesthetic or demand-related reasons. Furthermore, the high entry barriers to the industry, in the form of the criminal element a seller must deal with to enter the market, creates high...
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