An associate professor of sociology at University of Texas – Austin crunches the numbers on today’s hookup culture and concludes women are selling themselves short on the campus sex market.

Dr. Mark Regnerus, author of the recent book Premarital Sex in America: How Young Americans Meet, Mate, and Think about Marrying, recently explored his thoughts on the economics of casual sex on campus at the fifth annual “It Takes a Family” conference, hosted by the Ruth Institute in San Diego.

Regnerus argued sex is loosely interconnected as part of an economic and social sexual marketplace, and therefore not simply a private matter between two consenting adults.

He called it the “mating market.”

In today’s market, more men are interested in sex outside of committed relationships, more women are interested in marrying, and in the middle are both men and women interested in committed sexual relationships outside of marriage, the professor said, citing various studies.

In the terms of sexual economics, women are generally the “suppliers” of sex, and men constitute the “demand” for it and play the role of “consumer.” In other words, women are the gatekeepers of the goods for which men are willing to work and pay, he said.

As with all economic models, when various factors shift the equilibrium, the price of the good changes. The “hookup culture” – the proliferation of cheap and casual sex, especially on college campuses – occurs within a marketplace in which suppliers (women) are willing to capitulate to the cheap asking price of the consumers (men).

Women give men what men want and fail to secure reciprocal investment in return, Regnerus asserted.

Citing numerous studies conducted by Add Health, a longitudinal study of a nationally representative sample of adolescents, he said half of college-aged males surveyed reported having known their partner for less than a month before first having sex, whereas more than a quarter of all female respondents had waited over a year before climbing into bed.

… How can women better position themselves, economically?

One way to increase the “price” of sex would be for women to collude with each other to “restrict” guys’ easy access to sex, demanding better treatment and therefore causing a leftward shift of the “supply” curve, Regnerus posited.