The Social Science of High School sex

Really enjoyed this article in Slate— not a lot to add though:

A tamer version of that observation is borne out in the economists’ work among high schoolers. Unsurprisingly, the majority of high school boys want to have sex (though only 47.6 percent of freshmen boys do). Unsurprisingly, the majority of high school girls do not (though 50.1 percent of senior girls do). Over the course of four years, the power shifts from the freshman girls who don’t want to have sex to the senior boys who do.

The conclusion? Though high-school girls don’t really want to have sex, many more of them end up doing so in order to “match” with a high-school boy. For them, a relationship at some point becomes more important than purity. Because of that phenomenon, in schools with more boys than girls, the girls hold more cards and have less sex. Where there are more girls, the male preference for sex tends to win out.

Also, confirms what pretty much all of us have ever known anecdotally– High School boys are more interested in sex; HS girls are more interested in relationships.

The Retirement Age

With all the talk from the budget commission (and the obvious savings clearly seen in the NYT calculator referenced in my previous post), there’s been a lot of talk about raising the retirement age for full Social Security benefits.  I used to be fully on-board with this, as it struck me as a reasonable step when you consider the upward trend in life-expectancy.  Of course, that’s pretty easy for me– I plan on largely sitting at a desk and standing in front of students (while leaning on a desk) for 6 hours a week till I’m at least 70.   In reference to a nice Peter Orszag Op-Ed on how to address Social Security issues, Yglesias lays out the problem with simply raising the retirement age:

To spell this out a bit, on the one hand poorer people tend to work in more physically taxing jobs. So this is a higher burden on them. But what’s more, poorer people have a shorter life expectancy than richer people and this gap appears to be widening. So if you let the retirement age increase according to some metric indexed to the overall growth of life expectancy you’re talking about an extremely regressive measure that cuts benefits most sharply to the most vulnerable.

Orszag suggests cutting monthly benefits so that life-time benefits should remain about the same:

A better approach would be to leave the full benefit age alone and instead directly reduce the monthly benefits as life expectancy rises, to keep average lifetime benefits roughly constant.

That strikes me as reasonable.  Another option would be to change the way benefits are taxed.  And, there’s still other ideas out there that can help save the non-dramatic amounts we need without taking the clearly regressive step of simply increasing the retirement age.  Then again, if all the old people are going to keep voting Republican, let’s just cut their benefits now :-).

I fixed the budget!

The New York Times has a super-cool new interactive graphic that lets you “fix” the budget deficit through selecting a series of budget cuts or revenue increases.  I love it!  Here’s, what I came up with.  I’m seriously going to assign this activity for my Intro to American Government class for the Spring.  What I really love about this is that you can see quite clearly that all the big savings come from addressing entitlements (Social Security and Medicare),  and Defense.  Cutting foreign aid and reducing the pay of federal workers– popular Republican claims– are tiny drops in a giant bucket.  Serious movement on the deficit means addressing the exact things that Republicans have refused to in recent years (especially that they are now so much the party of older Americans).

For my plan, I relied heavily on heading back to the Clinton-era tax code (seems like the country did okay in the 1990’s) and some military cuts.  I tinkered with SS, but I’ve been convinced that raising the retirement age is fairly regressive.  In my first go-round, I went with capping Medicare spending– which makes for huge savings, but I realized that this is simply not a realistic policy without a truly comprehensive set of additional cost-saving measures in place.  I definitely think Medicare needs to be put on a budget, but if just done on it’s own, it will only result in less health care for many who need it.  Still, it would be tempting to see how that fact alone might be able to drive medical costs down.

Anyway, I’d love to hear your thoughts on my plan and what you would do differently.

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