Table of Contents

Vanity Economics

Vanity Economics

An Economic Exploration of Sex, Marriage and Family

C. Simon Fan

This book presents an accessible and sometimes controversial economic exploration of numerous issues surrounding sex, marriage and family. It analyzes the role of ‘vanity’, defined as social status and self-esteem, in social and economic behaviors.

Chapter 10: Homosexuality

C. Simon Fan

Subjects: economics and finance, behavioural and experimental economics, institutional economics


Although the exact figure is hard to obtain, a non-negligible proportion of people are homosexuals. Most sociology research appears to indicate that, in Western countries today, 1 per cent to 3 per cent of the population is homosexual. Moreover, homosexuality appears to be a hot topic of discussion in the media, as illustrated by the frenzy caused by the statement Barack Obama made in support of gay marriage during his 2012 US presidential election campaign. This chapter tries to answer the following long-standing question: why are some people homosexuals? From an evolutionary perspective, homosexuality is perplexing, as homosexual activities cannot lead to procreation. Thus the first task of this chapter is to make sense of homosexuality in the context of evolution. It proposes that homosexuality may be a product of intelligence in the evolutionary process. The principle of evolution is the survival of the gene (Darwin, 1859; Dawkins, 2006). However, such a goal is not achieved by the 'gene' itself. Instead, it is directly achieved by its host - a living being (or an organism) such as a human. The gene induces a living being to achieve its goal of survival through a number of biological desires, particularly for food and sex. While desire for food guarantees that an organism has enough of an incentive to acquire sufficient nutrition to stay alive, sexual desire induces a living being to overcome obstacles and difficulties to find a mate and give birth to offspring so that the gene will survive after the death of the living being's body.

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