Friday, November 30, 2018

Data: There is NO sexual equality among men

According to evolutionary theory, sexually reproducing animals can invest more in parental effort (providing for offspring) or mating effort (pursuing copulations). The advantage of the first strategy is that the success one's offspring is enhanced; the advantage of the second is that one can potentially produce many offspring with little effort per child.

This theory would expect sex differences in the strategy taken, and it also predicts that some men will chase skirts while others will focus on being family men. Since evolutionary theory sees competition as fundamental, we would also expect some men to fail at either strategy.

Recently, there was a discussion about whether the losers feel so aggrieved that they might, like the poor, act out with violence and begin to organize politically to gain sexual equality.

This sounds like joke, but a recent analysis of high school data, motivated by the discussion, concluded that sexual inequality is a myth. It's funny how analysts can so easily dismiss hypotheses derived from the only theory of humans we know is true with one cherry-picked data set of high school kids, many of whom are not mature enough to have even entered the "sex market," but hey that's the state of contemporary social science.

I will avoid cherry-picking by doing what I always do -- relying on the General Social Survey to answer empirical questions.

The focus seems to be young men, so I limit the analysis to those ages 18-30. Here are estimates (N = 3,201):

First, trends seem pretty stable for the past four decades, but, do you see sexual equality here among men?  I don't.  If we remove the gay men, 12.7% of men ages 18-30 had ZERO partners last year; 60.2% had one; 14.2% had two; 9.5% had three; 6.5% had four; 7.0% had 5-10; 1.8% had 11-20; 0.5% had 21-100; and 0.1% had 100+ (if you believe them). If this looks equal to you, you can borrow my glasses.

What emerges here and typically with other data (unlike others, I don't ignore the body of research) is what we could call the "Sexual 1 Percenters." Many men have zero partners, while others have dozens. And even the difference between 0 and 1 is enormous enough.

Massive inequality! But liberals, the implacable enemies of inequality, yawn because the affected group are men.

UPDATE: Another approach appears to be to look at these kinds of numbers, and to simply deny there is inequality there. I will use this strategy the next time an employee complains that my salary is double his. My response will be, "For all intents and purposes, Tom, we make the same."


  1. I don't see anything here to indicate that these sex partners are all female. I wonder how many of the 2% of men with high counts are homosexual?

  2. Excellent issue to raise. Gay men are 15% of the top 2.3%.

  3. Lifetime children sired who live to puberty is the evolutionary figure.

    As for the "yawn" it isn't because the affected group are men; but rather because women in an Africanized mating market (climate control, high caloric availability, de facto polygyny social pseudoscientists call "serial monogamy") choose sires based on their perception of the kind of world in which their prospective sons will have to reproduce, and the "elite" men have the largely correct impression that they'll at least not be at the bottom of the evolutionary heap.

    It's more or less the same reason the middle class is being attacked from above and below.

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  5. Hi Ron—

    If you think this data shows something different from the Jefferson high school study, you may have made an error in your analysis. The results from the GSS appear to be completely consistent with Jefferson; I now present updated analysis that your readers may be interested in at

    One small difference is that fewer men report not having sex in the last year, i.e., greater equality compared to the high school case. The fraction of males in the Jefferson survey who report no sexual encounters in the past 18 months is 30%; the fraction in the GSS who report no sexual encounters in the past 12 months is 20%. Your errors may include, among other things, the inclusion of gay men.

    These are hard calculations. As a sanity check on your results, count the text boxes for 2016. I find five men in the >11 range, one man in the >21 range, and none in the >100 range. The total fraction in >10 is <1%, do you agree? Please let me know. This figure is consistent with the Jefferson high school data.

    As a side-note, I find the claim of >100 rather hard to believe; twice a week, every week, for an entire year? Do you believe this? Even the most hardcore redpiller would have trouble achieving this. But I include it in the data anyway.

    Some skepticism about some the theories of social life might go a long way. Very little in the realm of contemporary human behavior is "known to be true", particularly in C20. You may have been misled here.

    Best wishes from Pittsburgh,


  6. Another check here. You write "Another way to summarize the data is to say that, if we set the categories to their medians, and the 100+ category to 100, the top .1% of young men had 49% of the sex partners."

    This also seems to be incorrect. I count two men who report 100+ partners, and 4,003 remaining. I count 4,804 distinct partners in the remainder set, which means that the >100 account for 4.2% of the partnerships, not 49. That number would be even lower if I took medians (for this I just did lower of the range).

    This result (top 0.1% captures ~2%) is also consistent with the Jefferson data.

  7. Simon is right about something not being correct. My "share of all partners" analysis was done as if I took one representative from each sex partner category, and then calculated what share of all partners the top categories had. But this treats all partner categories as if they have an equal number of members which is obviously not true. Boneheaded move on my part. (A cost of speed blogging in isolation by someone who majored in sociology). Straightening me out is always appreciated.

    But no matter--the point doesn't change: If we remove the gay men, 12.7% of men ages 18-30 had ZERO partners last year; 60.2% had one; 14.2% had two; 9.5% had three; 6.5% had four; 7.0% had 5-10; 1.8% had 11-20; 0.5% had 21-100; and 0.1% had 100+ (if you believe them). If this looks equal to you, you can borrow my glasses.

    I see that Simon at his blog conveniently truncates GSS numbers to make them look more similar to the high school numbers. Everyone with 2 or more partners are all lumped into that category. So the GSS 0-100+ range of responses and the high school 0-9 range both get squished into the same 2 or more category, so they look more similar. It is clear that variance grows as men enter their 20s.

    And I see Simon states the partner question has been offered by GSS since 2008. Incorrect. Since 1988.

    And Simon is right that we need more skepticism about theories of social life. A glaring example is the theory that genetic differences among races are unimportant. Where we need LESS skepticism is concerning Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection.

  8. Hi Ron —

    I'm a little stuck here. You dismiss the high school data because it's "cherry-picked", and say that the GSS data shows the human experience shows something very different.

    But when a new analysis of the GSS shows that it has the same pattern (or, indeed, a more equal pattern, with fewer people reporting zero) your argument continues unimpeded.

    And then when then share of sex partners goes from 49% to 4%, you say that doesn't change your beliefs at all, either.

    What kind of result *would* change your belief? (Serious question.)



    PS: You also say that I "conveniently truncate" the GSS numbers. If I redo the analysis and your claims don't hold up, will you change your beliefs at all? I feel a little like there's no empirical evidence that will shift you here.

    I'm happy to do that re-analysis, but the back-and-forth may be a bit of a moot point for us both. If a few of your readers chime in in the comments here, I'll run some more numbers.

  9. Simon,

    Trust me -- the rest of the men do not feel in a state of sexual equality with your two guys who are getting 4% of the partners. Tell you what, I'll be happy with half that.

    And changing my mind is easy and black-and-white: Using GSS data, show us that men had an equal number of partners last year. Good luck.

  10. Sure. I suppose you could summarize our differences this way:

    You say: "Many men have zero partners, while others have dozens."

    I say: "The majority of men have one partner. The majority of women have one partner. Some have more, but a vanishingly small number have dozens. Nearly all men have had at least one partner by the age of 25."

    It is certainly the case that some people have more partners than others. But if that's the only thing that matters, it seems like you could have saved time and not looked at the GSS at all.


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