Here’s a question for our highly mathematically talented readership: what does the following condition describe?
[(Î´U/Î´L) / (Î´U/Î´C) | Sp=0] â‰¤ w – [(Î´U/Î´r) / (Î´U/Î´C) | S = 0]
If you said
“An individual will start to sell prostitution if the price for selling the first amount of prostitution, minus the costs of a worsened reputation for doing so, exceeds the shadow price of leisure evaluated at zero prostitution sold.”
you were spot on. That’s right; according to Marc Abrahams’ Improbable Research column in The Guardian, this is the equation to describe when a prostitute finds it worthwhile to sell (typically) her services.
The story is a little unclear, but the very least you’ll need to make sense of the equation is a definition of the variables:
- U is the “utility”
- L is the amount of leisure you have.
- C is the amount of goods and services you, as a consumer, consume.
- S is the amount of prostitution you, as a prostitute, sell to your customers.
- W is the going price for prostitutes.
- R is a measure of your reputation.
And here I am working on particle cosmology when there are these huge open problems in other fields!