The inner life of a cougar

“Single, Unemployed and Suddenly Myself” (nytimes) is a 37-year-old’s paean to the Catherine the Great lifestyle of having a 23-year-old male companion.

(Catherine the Great was perhaps the most powerful human on the planet so it represents a lot of progress if ordinary folks can live as she did.)

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Could talking to high school students constantly about sex encourage them to have sex?

What if you put a big barrel of condoms in a high school and put a sign on it saying “You can use these while you are having sex?” Would that encourage the 14-18-year-olds to have sex? The previous folks who looked into this question, typically with small samples, said “no.” The paper “Fighting AIDS, Changing Teen Pregnancy? The Incidental Fertility Effects of School Condom Distribution Programs” (Buckles and Hungerman; presented at American Economics Association 2015) looked a little more carefully. The researchers pulled birth certificates from the counties with free condom distribution in schools. They looked at births to women aged 15-19 compared to births to women aged 20-24 (the control group that presumably wouldn’t have had access to high schools) and found that births to the 15-19-year-olds increased by about 10 percent after the condom barrels went in. (Responding to an audience question, they said that they didn’t have any data on abortions so they couldn’t say how many extra pregnancies resulted from the free distribution programs. They noted that accurate data on abortion prevalence from surveys is difficult to obtain because people lie.)

Incidentally, the researchers noted that the American Academy of Pediatrics recently came out with a recommendation that condoms be distributed in schools. Thus people who get paid to provide health care to children support a policy that results in a larger customer base.

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