The memory I most treasure of Kim is of our mutual feelings of joy and excitement at finding someone who understood, in some small way, what it was like to think and feel and perceive the world very differently. We spent a long time swapping facts and figures with the kind of affection normally reserved for the gossip and reminiscences of old friends. And it really did feel as if we had known each other for years. There was a warm and wonderful ease and intimacy between us. I was and remain profoundly moved and inspired by the experience.
Meeting Kim and Fran helped me to learn much about what it means to be a savant, and a man. Kim faced his condition, its blessings and its burdens, with great courage, humour, and dignity. I must also pay homage to the tremendous and untiring dedication of Fran, on whom Kim depended and of whom he famously said: “We share the same shadow.”
So the wife is less committed to her sex part of the deal than the husband is to most of his parts. The wife can implicitly threaten to withhold sex for last minute demands, but even if he meets those demands she may still decline. And if she is not in the mood there is little he can threaten to withhold at the last minute that is of comparable value. Without kids he might threaten to leave the marriage, but that is a dangerous game to play.
Presumably overall this problem makes men less, and women more, willing to marry, though it may also make men more eager to marry to signal their confidence that this problem won’t befall them. I see two general ways to avoid this time-inconsistency problem:
1. Obligatory Sex – more explicit norms about the frequency and nature of sex, norms wives are expected to meet even when less in the mood. Perhaps wives would have to do something unpleasant, like exercise lots, when there was no sex.
2. Nonobligatory Other – remove something wives want lots from the usual set of stable husband contributions, so husbands can threaten to withhold that without being a pariah. Perhaps the expectation that he sleep at home [added: or maybe a big budget he could spend on extras for him or her]?
Both these approaches have been common in the past. Either would make women less willing to marry. Men won’t propose these because that would signal a lack of confidence, but women could propose them to signal they don’t expect a sex problem. Intuitively this seems unlikely, thought I’m not sure exactly why.
Added 3p: I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: people express strikingly little sympathy for sex-starved men.
This is puzzling, because there can be no doubt that since the 70s women’s real freedom has increased hugely. They have more and better educational and job opportunities, better control over their fertility, are more able to flee bad partnerships and – thanks to technical progress – can spend less time on household chores.
Greater freedom, though, has not brought greater happiness.
My friend insisted: “Have you ever loved anyone?” I have always been afraid of that question, but Paulo asked me to write this diary and so I have to give an answer. No, I have never loved anyone. I have had many men but I have always waited for the right person. I have been all round the world and have not managed to find the home that I am looking for. I have been in control and have been controlled, and relationships have never gone beyond that.
Now that I have answered “No, I have never loved anyone,” I feel freer. I see what is missing in my life.
I was, of course, only saying something that critics of conventional theory had been saying for decades. Yet my point was not part of the mainstream of international economics. Why? Because it had never been expressed in nice models. The new monopolistic competition models gave me a tool to open cleanly what had previously been regarded as a can of worms. More important, however, I suddenly realized the remarkable extent to which the methodology of economics creates blind spots. We just don’t see what we can’t formalize. And the biggest blind spot of all has involved increasing returns. So there, right at hand, was my mission: to look at things from a slightly different angle, and in so doing to reveal the obvious, things that had been right under our noses all the time.