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  • Writer's pictureLeigh Gerstenberger

Unintended Consequences and the Economics of Sex


I’ve been thinking recently about how even the best of intentions can have unintended consequences. Here are a couple of examples.

  • DDT, a broad-spectrum pesticide that gained popularity following World War II kills both malicious pests and more benign organisms alike, including bees – the primary pollinators for a multitude of plant species. Pollination is critical for the earth's ecosystems.

  • Three strike laws intended to reduce crime, increase police fatalities by giving two-time criminals a greater incentive to evade or even fight the police.

  • The Americans with Disabilities Act gives employers an incentive to discriminate against the disabled by not hiring them in the first place so as to avoid potential ADA claims.

  • Electrician licensing requirements can increase the incidence of injury due to faulty electrical work by reducing the supply of electricians, thereby encouraging homeowners to do their own electrical work.

I was reminded of the impact of unintended consequences when I came across this 10-minute video entitled The Economics of Sex produced by The Austin Institute for the Study of Family and Culture. I hope you find it as thought provoking as I did.



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