Since my own book is about to come out, it seems like a bad time to praise the competition. But I'm going to do it anyway. Steve Landsburg's More Sex is Safer Sex is fantastic. Once again, Steve has written a book where I have to say "I wish I wrote that" - as well as "How could I have missed that?"
Here's the passage that opened my eyes in the title essay:
Imagine a country where almost all women are monogamous, while all men demand two female partners per year. Under those circumstances, a few prostitutes end up servicing all the men. Before long, the prostitutes are infected; they pass the disease on to the men; the men bring it home to their monogamous wives. But if each of these monogamous wives were willing to take on one extramarital partner, the market for prostitution would die out, and the virus, unable to spread fast enough to maintain itself, might well die out along with it.
Model-building - where would we be without it?
And now for something completely different - Steve reinforces his place, second only to Julian Simon, as the wisest student of population issues:
Chicagoans are free to move to Nebraska and Calcuttans are free to move to the countryside. The reason they don't is that for all their complaining, they prefer the crowds. [And/or the indirect effects of the crowds. -B.C.] For goodness' sake, why are rents so high in Manhattan if not because some people have a high value on living near others?
Not that New Yorkers will admit it. In one recent survey, 37 percent of New Yorkers said they'd leave the city if they could. Of course, since none of them left the city, and since all of them could, the only proper conclusion is that 37 percent of New Yorkers lie to pollsters.
So why am I hurting my own sales by giving free publicity to a competitor? Well, for one thing, I could easily imagine that Steve's book and mine are complements, not substitutes. Who knows, maybe when people buy Steve's book, Amazon will try to upsell them to a Landsburg/Caplan bundle?
The real reason I'm promoting Steve's book, though, is that I enjoy saying what I really think. And I really think that Econlog readers will love this book.