Teen Behavior Explained, the TV Diet, and Online Abortions?

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  1. Bruce says:

    I think it is probably correct that teenagers are hardwired to take on risk. But if so, this is in conflict with economic theory. A teenager has many more years of life expectancy than a 60 year old. So the teenager should be more risk averse. Put another way, the lifetime cost of risky behavior is much greater for a teenager.

  2. Ken says:

    Bruce it’s also in conflict with evolutionary theory. What’s the evolutionary survival value of having the youngest adults take on the most risk?

  3. Larry C. says:

    On sex while asleep, why can’t I be one of the lucky 12?

  4. Devon Herrick says:

    I’ve read that the teenage brain isn’t fully developed until their mid-twenties, which impacts their decision-making skills. This may explain why in WWII most pilots and submariners were under age 30. Solders older than 30 were too smart to take the kind of risks that 20-year olds were willing to take.

  5. Joe S. says:

    Ken, it doesn’t have evolutionary survival value from an individual point of view. But it may from a group survival point of view. Older folks have accumulated human capital that younger ones do not have. Plus, the young are better able to fight off rivals who threaten the group. So it may make survival sense to sacrifice some of the young in order to preserve the group as a whole.

  6. Vicki says:

    On the TV ads, do you suppose that people who are hooked on sugar and fat are more impressionable? Otherwise, why don’t we see just as many advertisements for vegetables?

  7. Virginia says:

    We don’t see ads for lettuce because there’s no lettuce lobby. Plus, the margin isn’t there. It’s not like buying a bag of chips where you can eat the whole bag before you know what you’re done. That was the beauty of the industrialization of the food supply: by adding all sorts of chemicals and making food taste absolutely sinful, industry actually increased the amount of food that we ate.

    There’s a GREAT documentary about this: King Corn. They talk about how subsidies for farmers change the way we eat.

  8. Linda Gorman says:

    Economic theory typically does not address how individual preferences are formed. If parents and teenagers are hardwired to assess risk differently, then theoretical predictions about how they will behave generally start from there. (Anyway, I’d argue that as far as risk taking goes, teenagers are pikers compared to toddlers.)

    Different individual preferences make individual marginal utilities tricky to compare. Since preferences differ, it is possible that someone who really, really likes shoes values his 15th pair more highly than someone with no interest in shoes and the same income values his 3rd pair.

    Consider the revealed preferences (via their shopping habits, room debris, and closets) of fashionista teenage girls versus video game obsessed teenage boys. If, of course, you can find either their closets or their rooms.