Recently, the economics blog Marginal Revolution ran a piece called A Theory For Why Latvian Women are Beautiful, after a colleague returned from Latvia astounded by the beauty of the women there. This would hardly surprise Latvian women, 500 of whom marched in a Blonde Weekend parade last May to cheer people up during the global economic downturn.
Alex Tabarrok offers a theory, based on a study by David Schmitt. Basically, it says these women are horny as hell, and implies that they’re getting all dolled up and strutting their stuff to snag a shag. The study was called Sociosexuality from Argentina to Zimbabwe: A 48-nation study of sex, culture, and strategies of human mating (2005). It looks at why women’s attitudes towards casual sex might differ among countries.
First, Marginal Revolution’s definition of sociosexuality:
Sociosexuality is a concept in social psychology that refers to how favorable people are to sex outside of commitment. It can be measured by answers to questions such as “I can imagine myself being comfortable and enjoying “casual” sex with different partners” (agree strongly to disagree strongly) or “Sex without love is ok,” as well as with objective measures such as the number of sexual partners a person has had. A low score indicates subjects who favor monogamous, long-term, high-investment relationships. A high score indicates subjects more favorable to sex for pleasure’s sake alone. with less regard to commitment. On average, males have higher sociosexuality scores than females but sociosexuality scores for females vary widely across countries.
Schmitt hypothesized that women in countries with a low ratio of marriageable men to marriageable women would be more friendly to the idea of commitment-free sex. This theory explores the flipside of a study done by Pedersen (1991), which found that when the sex ratio is high, an oversupply of men leads to greater fidelity, stronger commitment to career, and an increased male willingness to engage in child care. It’s also interesting to note that in the United States, every study has shown that men report higher sociosexual scores than women. (Did that knock you off your chair? I didn’t think so.) Those findings are confirmed in this study across all the countries.
Here’s what Schmitt found:
You can see that Latvian women are indeed quite friendly to the idea of bumping just for fun. They are outdone only by my kinswomen in Lithuania, women in Austria, Slovenia, New Zealand and Finland. Estonian chicks also look pretty eager, so if I were a single guy I would book my next vacay to the Baltics.
(It turns out the Baltic nations have a low sex ratio due to the high rates of male suicides and deaths from accidents within these nations. That sounds very strange, doesn’t it? I suspect diabolical plots on the part of the Russian Mafia.)
Another interesting finding of the study is that in cultures where women possess more political, economic, and relational power to make their own sexual decisions, women appear to preferentially choose a more unrestricted form of sociosexual expression. This refutes the idea that women are solely designed for long-term monogamy.