Vanity Economics
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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.
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Chapter 8: Prostitution and commercial sex

C. Simon Fan


Prostitution and commercial sex have existed throughout human history. Wikipedia makes the following observation. Ancient Greek men believed that refined prostitution was necessary for pleasure and different classes of prostitutes were available. Hetaera, educated and intelligent companions, were for intellectual as well as physical pleasure. Peripatetic prostitutes solicited business on the streets, whereas temple or consecrated prostitutes charged a higher price. In Corinth, a port city, on the Aegean Sea, the temple held a thousand consecrated prostitutes. This section discusses the demand factors for commercial sex. Why do some men visit prostitutes? The most obvious reasons are their sex drives and desire for a variety for sexual partners. Moreover, as discussed in Chapter 7, such motivations are reinforced by a culture that promotes sexual promiscuity. Even in the age of sexual liberation, many men find that the most effective way to maximize their number of sexual partners is to have sex with prostitutes. As for any other commodity, the demand for commercial sex is determined by income and prices. When the income inequality between the rich and poor is high, the prices of commercial sex are often low for the rich. Consequently, the demand for prostitution tends to be high. For example, in the 1990s, there was a huge disparity in per capita income between Hong Kong and Mainland China. The spirit of capitalism was introduced into the country and the degree of economic integration between Hong Kong and Mainland China was high.

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