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October 04, 2007


Steve B

No, it's just that marriage is an outdated institution that doesn't meet people's needs and society is moving on :)


Moving on to what Steve B? And is it better? And you have empirical evidence for that?


"if you believe the managerialist rhetoric - a faster pace of change..."; yes, that is a particularly tedious fantasy, isn't it?


You would interpret human relations in terms of economics?

Ken Houghton

In terms of rational activity, for a group, certainly.

Problems occur only when you forget that individual mileage may vary, and Pareto-optimal solutions still have negative consequences for some.


In our case, it's a rational decision - put money into a house or into a wedding. Since putting money into the house is an investment, while putting money into a wedding is literally pissed up the wall, it's obvious what you'll choose. We can build a reasonable sized extension for what some friends have spent on weddings. Blame, therefore, the rise in house prices that makes a choice necessary.

Don't tell my partner this, though. Anyway, with Cameron around I quite like batting for the cohabitation team, just to upset his statistics - we've been together nearly nine years, after all.

[I recognise the obvious flaw in my argument is that you don't *need* to spend ten thousand quid on a wedding, you can pop down the registry office and get it done in half an hour, but that runs up against the fact that marriage is more important than that for a lot of people, particularly females who've seen their friends have big weddings. Societal norms, again.]

Matt Munro

The opportunity cost of marriage has gone through the roof though. Divorce means losing at least half of all you ever owned and all you will ever earn, plus spending every other weekend in a theme park with your kids. Also, if Ms right turn out to be Ms right tart, your attractiveness as a mate to any potential Ms right the second is seriously degraded.

Matt Munro

I don't agree with this socialist "society has moved on/marriage doesn't meet individual needs anymore" argument. Mariage is a societal, not an individual need, and the "need" is for people to procreate in socially efficient units, co-habitation is hugely inefficient and simply makes people (especially women) more dependent on the state.


Anyone interested in how certain forms of breeding behaviour evolve should read "Cuckoos, cowbirds, and Other Cheats" by Nick Davies.

In particular, "Wood Ducks: Nest-Box Chaos" (p231) which demonstrates how the tragedy of the commons applies to breeding birds.

It isn't sensible to be too exact in applying bird behaviour to humans, but the way breeding behaviour is determined by the bird-economics of a species' circumstances won't be lost on anyone who reads this blog.


The conclusion must be that birds are expensive.


If our partners' personalities have become more volatile, maybe our own have as well. (In the aggregate this is of course the case.) So maybe the volatility that has raised the option's value is our own future selves. I don't know what I will be like in 10 years, and I might not like this person -- but maybe it's because I change, not because he/she changes.

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