AUSTIN, Texas, Jan. 18 (UPI) -- Relationship power is moving in men's favor -- instead of U.S. men competing for women, women say they must compete for men, researchers say.
Mark Regnerus and Jeremy Uecker, sociologists at the University of Texas at Austin, describe the "price of sex" as the cost of romance, status, stability and commitment that men exchange for access to sex in a relationship.
The researchers say despite women's success in getting an education and careers, contemporary relationships are becoming more male-centered than ever, with men gaining access to sex earlier and more often, yet providing fewer and later commitments than one generation ago.
"There have been many changes in romantic and sexual behavior over the past 30 years," Regnerus says in a statement. "One is that the 'price of sex' among unmarried Americans has dipped to an all-time low."
The study authors used data from four national surveys and dozens of face-to-face interviews of men and women ages 18-23 to compile data for the study.
"Men's economic and educational successes have stalled, creating an environment in which fewer educated and financially-stable men are selecting mates from a larger pool of educated and financially-stable women," Regnerus says. "It's created an imbalance that tips relationship power in the direction of the men."
What has not changed is that men generally display few emotional consequences for sex, while women have a harder time dealing with "no strings attached" sex for women, the strings are often what makes sex satisfying," the study authors say in their book "Premarital Sex in America: How Young Americans Meet, Mate and Think About Marrying."