Gendernomics: The marginal utility

marginal-utility-curveWhen it comes to economics, marginal utility a good or service is the added benefit gained from an increase in consumption or loss experienced from a decrease in consumption of a good and service. The law of diminishing marginal utility states that as you consume more units of a good or a service the marginal utility will decrease with consumption. For instance, if you have enough money to consume 2 beers or 2 sandwiches, or 1 beer and 1 sandwich, the latter would be marginal utility maximizing. The marginal decision rule states that a good should be consumed at a quantity where marginal utility is equal to marginal cost. The final piece of the puzzle is subjective value theory, where the value of a good has a different value to each person, even though their valuations may overlap. In synthesizing these concepts, we can think of 2 men, a farmer and a tailor. The farmer has more food than he is able to consume, thus he would experience little marginal loss by consuming less, however he clothes are tattered and he could use a new set of clothes. The tailor on the other hand has more clothes than he could ever hope to wear, but has no food, thus he shares the marginal over-consumption of the farmer. Thus, the two could easily increase their marginal utility by trading food for clothes, at a rate acceptable to both men, up to the point where the law of diminishing utility kicks in and marginal utility equals marginal cost. Economists have long compared using varying metrics, but the most simple and straight forward, is the metric that no human can greatly affect, namely time.

Every good can be translated into time, and time is a central factor for both marginal utility and marginal cost. Marginal utility and cost are affected through the fact that the farmer in our analogy could learn some tailoring or the tailor could learn and maintain a small plot of land for farming however, their results would not change much. The marginal utility of clothing would go down for a farmer who could invest some time in learning tailoring, however the cost of learning tailoring, would mean that he has less time to devote to his farming. The tailor likewise would need to take time away from tailoring in order to farm, therefore, their gains in marginal utility would be counteracted by the increasing marginal cost faced in their total production. This is where specialization comes in.

Now, specialization has been central to the modern economy since Adam Smith, and has been the embodiment of the chase for scale economies. The concept of scale comes down to that many goods can be produced at a lower cost, as a result of the variable costs of production being a relatively small part of the total cost, in addition to being able to distribute the fixed costs of operations to more produced units. Recently, this thinking has also been applied to service industries where the companies attempt to gain some forms of scale benefits, through growing in size. For many mainly service based firms, they often get scale benefits in purchasing or administration through being able to cross-utilize the staff, or get bigger volume discounts.

The Red Pill perspective

An old and simple example of marginal utility is to compare two goods, using the formula for marginal utility.






We can discuss what “utility” is actually defined as, but usually it just represents a theoretical starting point. From there we put MU over P (price) to arrive at a marginal utility pr unit of price. This obviously works very well when you are comparing milkshakes and pizza, or guns and butter, but not so much when you are attempting to apply the theory to the concept of gendernomics, where most assets are intangible and the prices are hard to determine. From my perspective, as time is the only true currency, it would follow that the price should always be translated into the required hours to obtain the product. Furthermore, that the utility should be quantified equally for all calculations. To account for the law of marginal utility, one would have to determine the situational context of each individual in order to personalize calculations.

For instance, lets do a calculation of hooker vs dating. For this example, I will make the “3 dates before sex” assumption, and I’m assuming that the man pays, and that he earns $10 pr hour so lets math out the dates.

Coffee date: total cost in dollars, $20, total time spent on the date 2 hours. Average hourly pay $10 pr hour. Total time cost of the date 4 hours.

Second date: Dinner $50, total time spent on the date 3 hours. Average hourly pay of the man $10 pr hour. Total time cost of the date 8 hours.

Third date: The female cooks. Time spent on the date excluding overnight stay 3 hours. Total time cost of the date 3 hours.

The total time cost of sex in this case, would be 17 hours, or $170 assuming $10 pr hour.

The price of a prostitute varies quite a lot, and it was not something I put a lot of research into, but from Craigslist it looks to be about $150 in hour. So the total time cost in this case, 1 hour with the hooker, and 15 hours work in order to pay her.

This is where the mathematics become insufficient because many would argue “The man got to enjoy himself on the dates as well” or “He may be able to have sex with the woman he is dating more than once, thus being able to allocate the cost of the initial dates to more sexual encounters”.  The former is impossible to quantify, so it is not really relevant to this piece but the second one is a valid argument. If he can get 3 more short-term (1 – 2 hour) sexual encounters, that puts the cost pr encounter at $20, and one can allocate the $170 to 3, thus reducing the that to $57 pr encounter, plus $15 on average in time spent, thus a total of $72 pr encounter, which is a much more competitive rate than the professional.

From this, we can see that there are definite economies of scale to be found in the sexual market place if the assumptions hold. If you can date a woman at a lower cost than the initial investment, then it follows that the fixed cost is going to be distributed across more sexual encounters, thus reducing the cost of each encounter. However, this begs the question of whether this situation would also be affected by the law of dimishing marginal utility, to put it bluntly, does the marginal utility of sex with the same woman 3 times equal the marginal utility of sex 3 times with 3 different women?

Summary and conclusions

As I stated in my post on time, everything you want to do in your life depends on having the time to do it. Humans often want to have their cake and eat it too, however, time by the very nature humans perceive it as enforces mutually exclusive choices. The application of marginal utility and marginal cost to time and choices is the very basis of economics, and what lies behind the supply and demand curve. Economics as a field is concerned with how a person, group, or nation allocate and utilize resources and how to do so optimally.

The challenging thing in today’s world is the amount of options available to your average person and not being overwhelmed by the choices you have to make. The solution to this is to adopt an end oriented approach, wherein you figure out your goal and attempt to make it there with the least amount of effort and time expenditure. This is what the “Hookers vs Dating” problem illustrates, that unless you are able to reliably “same night close” and push it to a second date, you are raising your cost of sex, and much like the trader who is in a negative position, you are prone to finding yourself holding on to a losing prospect to avoid taking the loss.

A note:

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10 comments on “Gendernomics: The marginal utility

  1. […] in time expenditures, foregone relationships, and it would have to account for benefits, such as obtaining sex at what should be a declining cost rate. From this we can gleam that while all relationships share a similar cost structure, consisting of […]


  2. […] possible, through the assumption that humans logically weigh options, utilizing concepts such as marginal utility, taking into account sunk costs and opportunity costs, and countless other principles that together […]


  3. KryptoKate says:

    If you’re talking about male sexual strategy, then you are leaving out the fact that optimal male strategy is not simply getting his sperm into a fertile female, but sexual monopolization of said female. Males who have one-offs with females who are also sleeping with other males do not have good chances of reproducing because there is only one day a month a woman can get pregnant and even then the chances are less than 50% even if you get your sperm in her with no barriers. Two young, healthy fertile people who have sex regularly all month only have like a 40% chance of a pregnancy occurring. So if a fertile female is sleeping with, say, 2 or 3 men a day, the chances that you are the one who impregnates her are vanishingly low even with no birth control. Otherwise, NBA players and rock stars would have many, many more children than they end up with…yet they sleep with hundreds or thousands of fertile women and typically only have a few children.

    I realize that most men don’t actually want children, or at least not with every woman they sleep with, on a conscious level, but that is the ultimate reason for their sexual behavior and imperative, is what will successfully get them children who will also be successful in reproducing. And banging a promiscuous woman will never be as good a strategy as regularly banging a woman who can’t or won’t have sex with anyone else, as a male reproductive strategy, because of concealed ovulation.

    The men who have lots of children are men who sexually monopolize multiple fertile women and prevent them from sleeping with anyone else. Polygamist mormons often have dozens of children and hundreds of grandchildren, and thus as a sexual strategy they far outpace rock stars that have one night stands with a thousand women.

    In other words, what you are missing in your economic analysis is that the value of getting your sperm next to a potentially fertile egg is MUCH higher if you can also sexually monopolize the woman. This is why sex with prostitutes is so much cheaper than sex with a woman who is at least, in appearance, sexually exclusive. A wife is selling sexual exclusivity (whether she lives up to that deal is another question) while a prostitute is not and that is why a wife is much more expensive even if she is much less attractive. Thus the end value of the dollars per time analysis is not really equivalent because the end result of sex with a woman who is also sleeping with dozens of other men is inherently less valuable, to the male reproductive strategy, than the end value of sex with a woman who is only sleeping with him. You need to factor that into the formula — if not for that, all men would just sleep with prostitutes yet men are typically desirous of sexual monopolization (of their women, not for themselves, of course).


    • The formula when including for sexual monopolization of a female, becomes highly complicated as the only way to do so is to ensure that she has no contact with men who could sneak a shot in. Hence the eunuchs in the harems, there to ensure that the female did not mate with other men except her husband.

      The purpose of sexual monopolization is two-fold:
      A) To ensure that she always has live egg fertilizers inside her, so that when the egg does drop, it is fertilized.
      B) Ensure that she does not mate with anyone else, thus being cuckolded.

      Sperm can stay alive within the female for 3 – 5 days I believe, thus the “optimal” number of times a male would need to mate with a monopolized female would be 3 x 10 – 5 x 6, or 30 days. 3 – 5 matings each month, assuming that she is not sleeping with other males. The opportunity for a female to sleep with another male, is a function of how much time the male spends with her, as she will not be able to mate with another man if she is being mate guarded (assumption, many are sneaky).

      Thus, in order to ensure maximum reproductive success in this regard, the man would not only need to inseminate the woman 3 – 5 times every month, he would also be required to ensure that she does not sleep with anyone other men that month either through mate guarding. This actually increases the cost of dealing with a single partner, as the opportunity cost goes up, not down due to the higher time investment.

      The reason why polygamist Mormons have such a successful strategy (at least on the surface), is that their community acts as mate guards as well, they are the eunuchs of Mormon life. Of course, the large groups of children would have to be paternity tested to determine how successful their strategy actually is.


      • KryptoKate says:

        Yes, I agree. I don’t know how to do the math, just thought I’d bring up the concept. 🙂

        Though I think 5 days is the absolute maximum that sperm can potentially live inside a woman and that figure is mostly cited to scare teenagers away from unprotected sex — it wouldn’t be the norm. Most sperm dies within a woman in a few hours. For couples who WANT to get pregnant, they’re counseled to have sex every other day for optimal chances of a pregnancy occuring. Even so, it usually takes several months of intercourse on this schedule for a young, healthy, fertile couple, on average, to get pregnant. Which just shows how much investment of time a man typically makes in order to get a baby off of a woman, since if she were sleeping with several other men a day the chances of getting a baby would be very, very low. Again, I’m not great with math, but if there’s only a few hours when an egg is released that it is fertliizable, and sperm lives, realistically, 2 days, and the woman sleeps with a few men a day….then what are the chances that a one-off for any given man results in a baby? The percentage chance must be low single digits.

        The fundamentalist Mormons do easily get 30 kids off their 6 wives, I’ve driven through those places and the women are cattle. They don’t speak, they stare at the ground, and they are always pregnant or breast-feeding. Plus the patriarchs banish their young male competitors every few years by ex-communicating and driving off dozens of young men to just get rid of the competition. Otherwise the system wouldn’t work, you do have to get rid of excess males in a system like that, otherwise it collapses and I guess that’s why serial monogamy is the norm in advanced civilizations, with de facto polygamy only for the small elite who can afford to upkeep multiple women and monopolize them. Absent war to kill off young men, or divine power that allows you to castrate slaves and then make the eunuchs guard your concubines, or extreme wealth that allows maintenance of multiple women and multitudes of children, the vast majority of men can’t sexually monopolize, as you said. But that’s my point — sexual exclusivity of a woman is much more valuable than bare access to her vagina, so you can’t compare the price of a prostitute’s vagina versus the price of a non-prostitute’s vagina as if they’re equivalent. The more exclusive the vagina and the less access other men have to it, the more valuable it is. In reproductive terms, a date where you sleep with a woman is more similar to buying two straight days with a prostitute in order to keep other men out of her. Because most women don’t literally sleep with multiple men in a day unless they are pros. Though obviously, the value between professional and non-professional women diverge in a more promiscuous world where exclusivity is off the table.

        But my point is that unless a man can guarantee sexual monopoly, then from the perspective of achieving a pregnancy, a man’s chances of getting a baby are much higher if he sleeps with the same woman every day for 30 days than they are if he sleeps with 30 different women, one each day of the month. If not for concealed ovulation, this wouldn’t be the case because he could ignore women on their non-ovulating days and not have to guard them. But unless a man is one of the less than 1% who can guarantee sexual exclusivity by killing off all other men or throwing them in jail or locking his women in a tower or castrating his slaves to guard his concubines, for all the other 99.9% of men, spending time with the woman you’re having sex with is the best way to make sure no other sperm get into her. Which is why I believe men seek relationships and it has never been true that only women are interested in relationships.

        The reason I bring this up is because I think it’s funny that this simple math is virtually NEVER mentioned when you read analyses of male sexual strategy and how men desire to “spread their seed” etc. Instead you frequently read about how one male on an island with 100 women could eventually result in 100 babies while one woman on an island with 100 men still only results in one baby. Which while true, is also irrelevent because no one is stuck on an island of women. In real life, the danger is always that if you’re not sleeping with a woman, some other man is. And men get into relationships because monopolizing a woman’s time represents the best statistical chances for passing on one’s genes that most men will get. And the reason I think it’s funny is because apparently for much of the 20th century, biologists and sociologists had bought into the idea of female chastity and fidelity so thoroughly that it did not even occur to them that a man has an interest in sticking around a woman purely to make sure she doesn’t sleep with anyone else. The blue pill perspective and assumption of female monogamy was so thoroughly ingrained that no one even thought of it.

        My question is whether anyone has ever run the actual numbers on men who use one-offs as a reproductive strategy. We all know that sexual monopolization of multiple women through polygamy provides superior results to sexual monopolization of one woman through monogamy, but that’s totally obvious and boring. The real question is whether monogamy (at least for a period of several years) produces more children than sleeping around with multiple women while those women also sleep around. My guess is that it does, which would explain the male penchant for relationships. If it weren’t a better strategy men wouldn’t be so prone to getting attached to particular women, and would find one-night stands more satisfying than many actually seem to. In my observation, only men in relationships really desire one-night stands, which makes sense because that represents a low to no cost extra chance at fertilization, while for a single man it isn’t worth too much. As much as conventional wisdom has tried to act like women wrangle men into relationships and men don’t care for them, it just obviously isn’t true. But it would be interesting to look at the numbers. I don’t know how it could be done though since there’s no data available on this type of thing unless someone has ever done a fertility study in some kind of free-love sex commune. We all know what would happen…for most men, that would be a losing strategy and they would do much better pairing up, while only a tiny minority of top men would benefit.

        Sorry for the long-winded comment. :/


      • A healthy woman, during her peak fertility years is fertile 5 days each month. Sperm can stay alive within a woman for up to 5 days. These are both according to webMD. If human females did not have concealed ovulation, then the male would know to sleep with her twice, once at the start of her fertile cycle day 0, and once during her fertile cycle, day 2.5 to ensure maximum amount of sperm within her, thus maximum chance of fertilization. In addition he would mate guard, 5 days prior to her fertile window and 2 – 3 days after the fertile window. This would ensure a mean chance of fertilization at 20%, in exchange for a total of 13 days of his time, which is 312 hours.

        In order to ensure fertilization at a 20% probability, this would translate into doing this for 5 consecutive months, which is 1560 hours of his time during the period.

        In scenario 2, knowing that each female has 5 fertile days each month. this means that a woman is fertile about 16.6% of the time each month. However, menstruation is not concealed, and lasts 3 – 7 days, where the woman is clearly not fertile. Thus, those can be eliminated from the cycle, resulting in 30 – 5 (average m.time), thus a woman is fertile 20% of the time.

        I’m being somewhat haphazard with probability and odds now:

        S1: The man obtains a 1:5 chance of making a woman pregnant every month, with a high probability of it being his through mate guarding.

        S2: If the man instead sleeps with 5 different women, he will have a 1:5 chance of each of them becoming pregnant each month, but a lower probability of the children being his.

        S3: If the man sleeps with 5 different women, in addition to mate guarding all of them, he has a 1:5 chance of each of them becoming pregnant and the children being his.

        We know that scenario 3, that which the Mormons employ, along with many high status men throughout history, yields the most children.

        Scenario 1: The monogamous relationship, yields a certain predictable number of children, with varying probability of cuckolding, as high as 10% by some estimates.

        Scenario 2 is the one that has to be evaluated, and success here would be a function of two variables:
        A) How many women the man can reliably sleep with over a period of time.
        B) How many other men those women sleep with over the same period of time.

        I did some rudimentary probability analysis on this, and the sweet spot where the monogamous strategy appears to yield lower probability of pregnancy each month is when a man sleeps with over 7 women. At this point, this man will have a probability of all of them not becoming pregnant of a little under 20%. Furthermore, if he dials it up to banging 10 women per month, his probability of none of them becoming pregnant is 11%. However, this assumes that there are no sperm wars.

        The variable which is hard to control for is the number of partners the woman may have had in the same period.


  4. KryptoKate says:

    I think you’ve worked this out correctly. Just one quibble. An egg isn’t fertilizable for 5 days after release, only for about 12 hours. If a website said 5 days, it was probably referring to the potential survival time of sperm. But basically, given the time it takes sperm to swim all the way to an egg, there basically has to already be sperm in the woman at the time she releases the egg in order for it to fertilize bc if no sperm gets to it by the next day the egg dies. I’ve donated eggs before and they time up your hormone injections to the time they retrieve the eggs to combine with the recipient couple’s sperm to the exact hour and it is very very time sensitive bc once the follicle releases the egg doesn’t have more than about a half day. So anyway, however that changes the math.

    The interesting view here is that a man’s desire to spend substantial time with a woman may have much less to do with her than it does merely with wanting to block other men from getting into her. Mere presence is in fact the best way to mate guard and works a lot better than relying on her devotion.

    On a similar but unrelated note, I’ve been reading your pieces on male and female smp categories and intrasexual competition and it occurs to me that a lot of the things that both men and women do for status really has nothing whatsoever to do with directly attracting the opposite sex. But is still a useful tool in doing so bc it has the effect of intimidating members of one’s own sex so that they wouldn’t dare and make an attempt with one’side mate. I find a lot of “red pill” writers to be mistakenly focused on masculine traits that actually do not matter much to women or don’t even attract them but that DO impress and intimidate other makes very much, thus making it very unlikely that a male with those attributes will have his mate poached bc the costs on other males are too high, not bc he’s actually more attractive to his woman. There are plenty of artsy or intellectual or funny or sweet “beta” guys who are highly attractive to women and do quite well for themselves sexually, getting east sex if they actually try, but they’re also simply more likely to get their women poached for the sole reason that other men aren’t afraid of them. Whereas most dudes aren’t going to make an attempt on a navy seal’s girlfriend, unless they have a death wish.

    Same method in reverse works for females and most chicks arent going to step to the head sorority bitch’s man bc the social consequences are much too dire and thus the head bitch will be much more successful sexually even though she’s rarely the most directly attractive to men.

    These points go to your other posts, not this one, but I’m typing on my phone and it’s too hard to click around. But wanted to say your analysis of female archetypes is much more sophisticated than that for males and you completely leave out tons of traits women find attractive in men. You only focused on the traits that *other males* find impressive and relevant, which does create success for men but mostly bc it reduces his competition among men, not bc it actually pulls more women. I think those two basic strategies, ie directly appealing to the opposite sex vs reducing ones competition by intimidating intrasexually, should be distinguished. There’s a major confirmation bias and skew in the red pill to be overly focused on the intrasex male competition traits. Certainly the guys who don’t do that and just focus directly on being appealing to women are the biggest pussy hounds and get laid the most. Though the gains in quantity are likely offset by their lack of ability to monopolize over time.


    • I actually covered that aspect in the post. I started to do the same form of breakdown for men as I did for women, but as I was doing the analysis, it became clear that males function in a much different manner. Where females employ the different strategic breakdowns in order to narrow down their suitors to a manageable level by signalling what type of man they are in the market for, men attempt to appeal to as wide a market as possible.

      Where women employ significant effort and resources in order to differentiate themselves in the market, men attempt to seek mainstream appeal.

      Male sexual strategies work in progress

      This was in part based on the following table of data:

      Male qualities women desire

      It is fully possible as I did in the first image to break it down to men who prefer utilizing brains over brawn or vice versa, men who lean more artistic vs conventional, men who utilize humor, however these are not distinct in the same way female strategies are. For a man, his best strategy is to attempt a mixture of dominance (function of brains or brawn), social proof (function of intelligence, artistic ability, other talent) and wealth (function of brains, brawn, social proof, artistic ability etc.)

      Thus, the three major boxes can be broken down further into a range of traits and approaches. From the teacher who is a contextual alpha due to displaying dominance and having high social proof in the classroom by use of his brain. To the NFL player who is an alpha due to his physical ability, social proof and wealth.

      The same traits that make a male attractive to women directly, are the same traits that are utilized for intra-gender sexual competition.


  5. KryptoKate says:

    Sorry for all the typos, hopefully it’s comprehensible despite them.


  6. […] got me thinking along the lines of my “Hookers vs Dating” calculations in an earlier post on marginal utility. It is without a doubt that in the world […]


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