Vasectomies are on the rise. What would a behavioral economist think about that?

Reader Christopher Daggett points to a New York Times piece about the recent jump in vasectomies related to the economic downturn.

In Southern California, Planned Parenthood says that compared with last year’s first quarter, requests for vasectomies were up more than 30 percent in the first three months of this year.

“I’ve been in practice for 30 years, and I’ve never seen a spike like this,” Dr. Goldstein said. “Many of my clients work in finance and say they feel anxious about the expense of an added child.”

Daggett finds this behavior peculiar. “To avoid the costs of pregnancy in an economic downturn, (men) opt for a costly procedure that is even more costly to reverse,” he writes. “Many are not getting the most bang for their buck–there are cheaper alternatives for birth control.” Only if the objective is to become permanently sterile, do vasectomies make economic sense. But Daggett thinks most men are overreacting, opting for the procedure out of an availability bias for miserable recent economic news, and ignoring the long term cycles of economic growth.

It’s hard to disagree with this assessment. But there is a behavioral economic explanation for why a man might opt for a vasectomy in a period of economic turbulence. Usually, behavioral economic explanations tend toward human mistakes. But in this case, men might not be making mistakes at all. Huh?

Continue reading the post here.


  • adora

    It’s not just the children, some men have to pay for their baby mama as well – which are often a pain for life.