TIME health

New Global Study Calls Violence Against Women ‘Epidemic’

A Pokot woman holds a razor blade after performing a circumcision on four girls in a village about 80 kilometres from the town of Marigat in Baringo County, Kenya, Oct. 16, 2014.
A Pokot woman holds a razor blade after performing a circumcision on four girls in a village about 80 kilometres from the town of Marigat in Baringo County, Kenya, Oct. 16, 2014. Siegfried Modola—Reuters

Governments need to step up their game to protect women, says extensive new research

When it comes to stopping violence against women, actions speak louder than words. So even though there’s increased worldwide awareness about violence against women, the problem won’t be solved unless countries make significant policy and financial changes to support victims, according to a five-part series of studies in The Lancet, one of the world’s premier medical journals.

The series, entitled “Violence Against Women and Girls,” calls the violence a “global public health and clinical problem of epidemic proportions,” and the statistics are bleak. 100-140 million women have undergone female genital mutilation worldwide, and 3 million African girls per year are at risk. 7% of women will be sexually assaulted by someone besides their partner in their lifetimes. Almost 70 million girls worldwide have been married before they turned 18. According to WHO estimates, 30% of women worldwide have experienced partner violence. The researchers said that these problems could only be solved with political action and increased funding, since the violence has continued “despite increased global attention,” implying awareness is not enough.

“No magic wand will eliminate violence against women and girls,” series co-lead Charlotte Watts, founding Director of the Gender Violence and Health Centre at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said in a statement. “But evidence tells us that changes in attitudes and behavior are possible, and can be achieved within less than a generation.”

One of the major problems highlighted in the Lancet series is that much of the current research on violence against women has been conducted in high-income countries, and it’s mostly been focused on response instead of prevention. The study found that the key driver of violence in most middle-and-low income countries is gender inequality, and that it would be near impossible to prevent abuse without addressing the underlying political, economic, and educational marginalization of women.

The study also found that health workers are often uniquely positioned to help victims, since they’re often the first to know about the abuse.

“Health-care providers are often the first point of contact for women and girls experiencing violence,” says another series co-lead, Dr. Claudia Garcia-Moreno, a physician at the WHO, in a statement. “The health community is missing important opportunities to integrate violence programming meaningfully into public health initiatives on HIV/AIDS, adolescent health, maternal health, and mental health.”

The series makes five concrete recommendations to curb the violence against women. The authors urge nations to allocate resources to prioritize protecting victims, change structures and policies that discriminate against women, promote support for survivors, strengthen health and education sectors to prevent and respond to violence, and invest in more research into ways to address the problem. In other words: money, education, and political action are key to protecting the world’s most vulnerable women. Hashtag activism, celebrity songs, and stern PSAs are helpful, but this problem is too complicated to be solved by awareness alone.

“We now have some promising findings to show what works to prevent violence,” said Dr. Cathy Zimmerman from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. “We urgently need to turn this evidence into genuine action so that women and girls can live violence-free lives.”

The study comes just in time for the UN’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, on Nov. 25.

TIME Sports

How Sports Makes a Clear Case for Immigration

2014 NBA Finals - Game Five
Tony Parker #9 and Tim Duncan #21, and Manu Ginobili #20 of the San Antonio Spurs celebrate after defeating the Miami Heat in Game Five of the 2014 NBA Finals at the AT&T Center on June 15, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas. Andy Lyons—Getty Images

David Berri is a professor of economics at Southern Utah University.

If you want to win, you have to look everywhere for talent

President Barack Obama is expected to announce executive actions that would shield 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation Thursday, and it is clear that views on this subject differ.

At least, that’s true for non-economists. Economists–a group that generally doesn’t agree on much–seem to agree for the most part on the value of immigration. They argue that immigration–especially of skilled immigrants–is good for a nation. Not only does immigration increase the pace of innovation, it also helps improve the performance of the entire economy. So if you wish to see the economy of the United States improve, you should be in favor of immigration.

Despite this consensus, Harvard law professor Cass Sunstein has recently noted that people tend not to listen to economists on this subject. Sunstein offers some thoughts on why economists are ignored, but misses one possibility. Perhaps the problem isn’t the story. Perhaps the problem is with how the story is being told.

Those who teach sports and economics (such as myself) often argue that the study of sports often makes economics easier to understand. With that in mind, let’s think about sports and the economics of immigration.

As recently as 1980, almost all NBA players were born in the United States. Over the next three decades, though, the NBA increasingly broadened its search for talent. Today, about 20% of the league was born outside the United States.

Perhaps no team better exemplifies the global search for talent than the San Antonio Spurs. Last season the Spurs finished with the best record in the regular season. And in June, the Spurs won the NBA title.

There were 19 different players who logged regular season minutes for the Spurs in 2013-14. Of these, 9 were born outside the United States. Among this collection of international players were some of the most productive players the Spurs employed:

  • Marco Belinelli (born in Italy, 6.7 Wins Produced)
  • Manu Ginobili (born in Argentina, 5.9 Wins Produced)
  • Patrick Mills (born in Jamaica, 5.0 Wins Produced)
  • Tiago Splitter (born in Brazil, 4.2 Wins Produced)
  • Boris Diaw (born in France, 3.8 Wins Produced)
  • Tony Parker (born in France , 3.6 Wins Produced)
  • Corey Joseph (born in Canada, 2.8 Wins Produced)

These seven international players combined to produce about 32 wins for the Spurs, or more than half the games the team won in the regular season last year. Needless to say, without these players the Spurs would not have contended for a title.

This story goes beyond the NBA. A similar story can be told by the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers have won four consecutive division titles. And no team in Major League Baseball has won more regular season games since 2011. Three key players in this team’s success are Miguel Cabrera (American League Triple Crown winner in 2012), Victor Martinez (2nd in American League MVP race in 2014) and Anibal Sanchez (led American League in earned run averages in 2013). And all three were born in Venezuela.

Clearly immigration has worked for the Spurs and Tigers. And immigration doesn’t just make these two teams better. It also improves the product offered by their respective leagues. By expanding the population of talent a league draws upon, competitive balance in a sport can improve. In addition, without immigration, talents like Robinson Cano, Jose Abreu, Jose Altuve, Felix Hernandez, Johnny Cueto, Joakim Noah, Ricky Rubio, Serge Ibaka, Dirk Nowitzki and Kyrie Irving would be playing outside the United States. And if all this talent were employed elsewhere, it would be more difficult for the NBA and MLB to maintain their status as the preeminent league in their respective sports.

All of this teaches a simple and important lesson. If you want to be the best in the world, you have to employ the best in the world.

However you define “best,” it is clear that you can’t be the “best” without employing the “best” talent. If you restrict your talent search to the population born in the United States–less than 5% of the world population–your odds of employing the “best” talent seem fairly low.

So the world of sports teaches a clear lesson on immigration. The search for talent can’t be confined to the borders of a single nation. Firms in the United States compete in a global marketplace. The success of these firms, whether they are in or out of sports, depends on the talent these firms can employ. If you wish to employ the best talent, your talent search must be global. And that means your borders have to be open.

David Berri is a professor of economics at Southern Utah University. He is the lead author of The Wages of Wins and Stumbling on Wins and continues to serve on the editorial board of bothJournal of Sports Economics and the International Journal of Sport Finance.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME China

Why You Should Care About Obscure Asian Trade Pacts

U.S. President Barack Obama Visits China
President Barack Obama shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping after a joint press conference at the Great Hall of People in Beijing on Nov. 12, 2014. Feng Li—Getty Images

They will play an important role in determining America’s future in Asia

As the very name tells you, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Beijing this week was mostly about business. And for good reason. Cross-Pacific trade — especially between Asia and the U.S. — is what made countries like China, Japan and South Korea as rich as they are today. So all of the national leaders who attended — from U.S. President Barack Obama to Russian President Vladimir Putin to China’s President Xi Jinping — are incentivized to promote freer exchange between their economies, and as a result, much of the talk at the summit regarded pacts aimed at further reducing barriers to exports and imports.

But these days, trade has also become a tool of geopolitical strategy, and that, too, showed itself at APEC. Different Pacific powers are pushing for different trade deals. How that competition plays out in coming years will help shape the region’s political and economic future — and most of all, the role the U.S. may play in Asia for decades to come.

China’s Xi is promoting a regional pact called the Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP), which would build on the many overlapping free-trade agreements in East Asia. On Tuesday, he said that APEC countries “should vigorously promote” the FTAAP and “turn the vision into reality as soon as possible.” China made a bit of progress on this agenda. In their official communiqué, the APEC leaders pledged “to kick off and advance the process in a comprehensive and systematic manner” and set up a committee to undertake a two-year study on forming the FTAAP.

Meanwhile, Washington is advocating a rival trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a 12-nation agreement that includes countries as far-flung as Japan and Chile — but, most importantly, excludes China. The U.S. sees the TPP as a way of redirecting trade toward America, while pressuring China to eventually conform to more market-oriented trade and business practices. Obama on Monday said that he saw “momentum building” toward the completion of the TPP.

Which one of these trade deals comes to fruition will have major implications. That’s because trade flows translate into political muscle. For much of the modern history of Asia, the U.S. was at the center of a vast trading network in which factories around the region manufactured goods exported to American consumers. But the position of the U.S. has declined in recent years. Only 14.2% of Asia’s merchandise exports were shipped to the U.S. in 2013, down from 23.7% in 2000, according to the Asian Development Bank. Meanwhile, as China’s economy has grown into the world’s second largest, it has started to transplant the U.S. as the main trading partner for many Asian countries, and that shift has added to Beijing’s political clout in East Asia — at the expense of the U.S.

Beijing wants to keep that trend going, hence the push toward the FTAAP. The U.S. would rather have the TPP, as a way of maintaining its own influence in East Asia and countering rising Chinese power. Right now, the U.S. has the edge. The TPP talks may be dragging on (mainly due to Japanese resistance to opening its highly protected agriculture sector), but they are very advanced, while China’s pact is just inching off the ground. Though China won a minivictory getting its deal a green light at APEC at all, the nod is just the tip-off to what promises to be a long, arduous process — which may or may not go anywhere in the end.

Further complicating matters is the need for the U.S. and China to cooperate on trade with each other. The U.S. market is critical to Chinese economic growth — China exported more than $440 billion worth of stuff to America last year alone — while access to China’s expanding middle class is no less important for the future of many U.S. companies. That leaves Beijing and Washington in the odd position of both competing over and signing onto trade deals. On Monday, the two hammered out a long-awaited understanding to expand the number of products covered under another pact, the Information Technology Agreement, or ITA. This bilateral step could lead to a much bigger trade deal at the World Trade Organization that promises to reduce tariffs on a wider array of IT goods, potentially giving a big boost to U.S. tech outfits.

What that shows is how the U.S. and China, despite their geopolitical contest for dominance in East Asia, ultimately have no choice but to do business. Whatever trade deals eventually win the day — the TTP, the FTAAP and so on — the world’s two biggest economies may have to create a few more acronyms they can share.

MONEY Bill Gross

Here’s the Weirdest Economic Commentary You’ll Read Today

141104_INV_BillGrossWeirdThing
Jim Young—Reuters

Bond guru Bill Gross is famous for his wacky but insightful market analyses, and this one is exemplary -- in both regards.

Janus Capital fund manager Bill Gross—most recently in the news for leaving PIMCO, the bond fund giant he co-founded—today published commentary on the global economy and financial markets in his typically quirky style.

Before turning to some important points on inflation, Gross spends a couple paragraphs waxing Yoda-like about humanity… and how he’s made of sand:

I am a philosophical nomad disguised in Western clothing, a wondering drifter, masquerading in a suit near a California beach. Sand forms the foundation of my being and its porosity is at once my greatest strength and deepest wound. I have become after 70 years, a man who believes that no belief is sacred. I have ideals and moral standards, but I believe them specific to me. Had I inherited your body and ego, “I” could just as clearly have assumed “yours.” If so, I wonder, if values are relative, then what are mortals to make of them, and what would a judging God make of us? If a collective humanity is to be rooted in sandy loam, spreading its ideological seeds through howling winds only to root in mutant form at different places and different times, can we judge an individual life?

Then, against all odds, he steers these elaborate metaphors into a commentary on U.S. fiscal and monetary policy—and it turns out he has some important points to make.

Here are the four of them, roughly translated:

  1. Young people should (and do) fear inflation because it means their retirement portfolios will be cut in half or more.
  2. But these days, deflation is just as dangerous a threat as inflation, because the economy has become dependent on inflation to shrink our debt.
  3. The problem is that the monetary policy approach that would ordinarily prevent deflation—printing more money—is not helping to create true growth. “Prices go up, but not the right prices. Alibaba’s stock goes from $68 on opening day to $92 in the first minute, but wages simply sit there for years on end,” Gross writes.
  4. The solution Gross suggests for making the “right prices” go up is government fiscal stimulus — a surprising policy suggestion from a bond fund manager. But he also points out that government spending is a tough sell, thanks to fears about the very debt that makes us dependent on inflation.

These are some wise insights, despite the strange introduction. Actually, there’s evidence that Gross may be in on the joke when it comes to purple prose, or at least that he’s actively cultivating his reputation as an eccentric genius. In any case, today’s commentary wasn’t necessarily Gross’s strangest. He has in the past mused about his dead cat, Cracker Jacks, crows, and, as in the following passage, sneezing:

There’s nothing like a good sneeze; maybe a hot shower or an ice cream sandwich, but no – nothing else even comes close. A sneeze is, to be candid, sort of half erotic, a release of pressure that feels oh so good either before or just after the Achoo! The air, along with 100,000 germs, comes shooting out of your nose faster than a race car at the Indy 500. It feels sooooo good that people used to sneeze on purpose. They’d use snuff and stick it up their nose; the tobacco high and the resultant nasal explosion being the fashion of the times. Healthier than some of the stuff people stick up their nose these days I suppose, but then that’s a generational thing. My generation is closer to the snuff than that other stuff.

The latter commentary, titled “Achoo!”, goes on for another two paragraphs about sneezing before turning to neutral policy rates.

TIME Opinion

This ‘My Little Pony’ Parody Explains Income Inequality

The real world's a little darker than Ponyland

In a typical episode of the 1980s cartoon My Little Pony, Flutter Ponies and Baby Sea Ponies work together to defeat the evil magicians and sinister woodland creatures that seek to disrupt their cheerful way of life. But unlike the goblins and trolls that plagued Ponyland, rising inequality in the U.S. is very real and, in the words of a new Funny or Die parody video, “the crucial political and economic challenge of our age.”

“The Unbelievably Sweet Alpacas” is the brainchild of director Adam McKay, co-founder of Funny or Die and co-writer of movies like Anchorman and Talladega Nights. McKay was enlisted by the We the Economy project, which seeks to “drive awareness and establish a better understanding of the U.S. economy” through a diverse collection of 20 short films.

In the six-minute animated video, three alpacas, voiced by Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph and Sarah Silverman, visit the lollipop factory to receive their job assignments after graduation. What they find at the factory stands in stark contrast to the theme song in the opening credits, which suggests that if you “just do your best and play by the rules, you’ll have social mobility, Porsches and jewels.” Instead, the alpacas find that nepotism, uneven access to quality education, market forces and government regulations have more to do with job prospects than good old work ethic.

The video’s use of a simple allows for a simple explanation of the problem, while its satirical bent injects it with an appropriately acerbic tone. “Hey, I just noticed something!” exclaims a lollipop voiced by Billy Eichner. “You three perfectly represent the economic trends of the last 40 years!”

This isn’t Funny or Die’s first use of parody to communicate a social message. Back in July, Kristen Bell starred in a spoof that had Mary Poppins quitting her nanny gig in protest of the too-low minimum wage. As for a solution, raising the minimum wage, both videos hint, would be a good place to start. But it’s going to take more than a few corporations ponying up to get to the heart of the issue.

TIME Education

How Sports Can Help Your Kids Outsmart Everyone Else

Houston Astros v New York Mets
Children yell to players after a game between the New York Mets and Houston Astros at Citi Field on September 28, 2014 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. Alex Goodlett—Getty Images

Jon Wertheim is the executive editor at Sports Illustrated. Tobias Moskowitz is Fama Family Professor of Finance at the University of Chicago.

The playing field provides the ideal context for learning fractions, probability, equations, risk assessment, principles of finance, behavioral economics and even multi-variable calculus

Correction appended October 16, 2014

In her excellent book, Building A Better Teacher, the journalist Elizabeth Green tells a story of a new hamburger that the A&W Restaurant chain introduced to the masses. Weighing 1/3 of a pound, it was meant to compete with McDonald’s quarter-pounder and was priced comparably. But the “Third Pounder” failed miserably. Consultants were mystified until they realized many A&W customers believed that they were paying the same for less meat than they got at McDonald’s. Why? Because four is bigger than three, so wouldn’t ¼ be more than 1/3?

Green uses this example as one more piece of evidence that Americans suffer from a collective case of innumeracy, the math equivalent of not being able to read. But the A&W anecdote could also be used to underscore another national crisis: financial illiteracy. Even after a catastrophic recession—prompted, in part, by millions of us not grasping the terms of adjustable mortgages or the perils of an economic bubble—the subject of finance might as well have an “R” rating affixed. Come and see what all the fuss is about once you turn 18. It is the rare high school—much less middle school—curriculum that offers economics, and the rare K-12 curriculum that imparts simple lessons, such as the promise of compound interest or the peril of spending more income than you earn.

Put a dozen educational consultants in a room, ask them how to teach financial literacy, and you’ll get at least a dozen responses. There was once consensus that relevance and context are key. Show a sixth grader a supply and demand curve, it’s unlikely to be effective; instead, ask that same 11-year-old, “If the ice cream store has a line around the block, what would happen if they raised their prices?” But even that is up for debate. “The work often overwhelms the interest of the context,” says Dan Meyer, a former math teacher now studying math education at Stanford. “Calculating—putting numbers into a formula and then working out the arithmetic—is boring. Important, but boring. The interesting work is coming up with the formula.”

However, we would contend that there’s one context, popular among kids (increasingly of both genders), that is tailor-made for introducing basic concepts of economics and math, and a lot less boring: sports.

Just as a game is packed with fractions, probability, equations and even multi-variable calculus if you’re so inclined, so too is it a laboratory for risk assessment, principles of finance and behavioral economics—an emerging field that looks at the effects of psychology and emotion on economic decision-making.

In the aisles of Walmart or the listings for real estate, round numbers are powerful motivators, either to hit or to avoid. We’ll buy a 99¢ Coke, but are less inclined when it’s $1. We take pains to list homes for $99,999, not $100,000, when the difference is laughably negligible. And we do the same in sports. We hand a fat contract to a .300 hitter, but are less likely to do so to a batter that hits .299, never mind that the difference could be as little as two hits (or official scorer decisions) over the course of a season.

Sports also provide a context for probability. Broadcasters may ask questions hypothetically, but real answers exist. Jones is only a 40% free-throw shooter but he makes both. What are the odds of that?

If only one day a response would come: Well, I’ll tell you, Bob. Forty percent is 4/10. Multiply that twice for the two shots. 4/10 x 4/10 = 16/100 or 16%. Not good odds, but not extraordinarily rare, either.

And there are other examples. What is cutting a player from a roster if not taking a short position? A balanced line-up is a classic diversification strategy. Drafting a player at the same position as your star can be seen as a hedge against asset depreciation. That the baseball season started in Australia is a vivid example of international expansion and an attempt to alter consumer habits. Basic probability will explain why no one came close to winning the Billion Dollar Bracket Challenge that Warren Buffett sponsored during last March’s NCAA Tournament.

As Meyer notes, coming up with a formula might be more important than mere calculating. But, here again, sports can help. Sabermetrics in baseball and advanced stats in other sports are based on the premise of improving predictive models and deriving formulas. Half the fun of winning your fantasy league is the implication that you outsmarted (came up with a better formula than) everyone else.

If nothing else, any kid who’s been to both a hockey game and a basketball game knows the difference between thirds and quarters, and, in turn, would have picked the right burger.

Correction: The original version of this post misstated the title of Elizabeth Green’s book. It has been corrected.

Jon Wertheim is the executive editor at Sports Illustrated. Tobias Moskowitz is Fama Family Professor of Finance at the University of Chicago. Their 2011 book Scorecasting was a New York Times bestseller. Their new book, The Rookie Bookie, attempts to combine sports, statistics and financial literacy for kids.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Walmart

Why Walmart Workers Losing Healthcare Might Not Be Bad

Getty Images

Ironies abound

Talk about irony. In the same week that Walmart announced employees who work less than 30 hours will be losing their health care coverage, the company also announced that it’d be getting deeper into the business of selling insurance, making it easier for customers to price shop for insurance in stores. In some ways, this mirrors Walmart’s overall business model—keep prices down for consumers, but keep wages and benefits for employees low too.

Ironically, under the rules of Obamacare, it’s possible that those part time employees will get a better deal on health care exchanges, thanks to subsidies that help lower income workers buy insurance. It’s all part of the new landscape created by the Affordable Care Act. As Obamacare turns one year old, Joe Nocera and I discussed how it’s changed healthcare, business, and the economy, on WNYC’s Money Talking.

MONEY China

China Didn’t Really Pass the U.S. Economically

Chinese Yuan banknote plugged into a 1 Dollar banknote.
Ulrich Baumgarten—Getty Images

By at least one measure, China has a larger economy than the United States. But that matters less than you might think.

Update— October 9

The news is abuzz with what seems like earth shattering news: The International Monetary Fund reports that in 2014, China, not the United States, has the world’s largest economy. Sound the alarms, a new world order has arrived!

Well, not quite. Or at least not yet. As some pundits have pointed out, the IMF isn’t using the conventional measure of the value of goods and services the China produces, otherwise known as gross domestic product, or GDP. By that measure, the good ol’ U.S.A. still makes way more dollars worth of stuff than China does — though that lead is deteriorating.

Instead, the IMF is referring to GDP adjusted for something called purchasing power parity (PPP). This takes into account how much people in a given country can actually buy. And if you’ve ever visited a developing country, you know that one dollar can buy quite a lot more of certain goods and services, like bread and milk or a meal at a restaurant, than it could in the West. PPP is an attempt to take that difference into account.

As Marcos Troyjo, an adjunct professor at Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs, explains, purchasing power parity makes for a better measure than regular GDP of China’s rising standard of living. And life is getting better for many Chinese: What the IMF report found, in fact, is that Chinese people as a whole can now buy more goods and services in China than Americans as a group can buy in America.

For those who see global economics as a competitive endeavor, however, it’s worth noting that China is still splitting all those good and services between more four times as many people. Per capita GDP in the U.S. is still way ahead of per capita GDP in China, no matter how you calculate it.

And the U.S. still has more economic might on the global stage, at least for now, says Troyjo. The reason China ranks so high on the PPP scale is primarily because labor costs (i.e. wages) are low, which in turn keeps prices down — a phenomenon known as the Penn effect. The ability to buy anything sold on international markets, like iPads, military equipment, or other non-domestic products, is much better captured by regular GDP. By that measure, China is about eight years from matching the U.S. at current economic growth rates.

All this might sound like good news to anyone worried about China as a rival world power. But Troyjo points out that Beijing is not being restrained by a lack of funds. “China already has the resources to play the geopolitical role it would like to,” the professor told MONEY. The country maintains $3.7 trillion in foreign currency reserves alone, and invests almost 50% of its GDP back into the national economy. If China wanted to cause the U.S. trouble (or more trouble than it already does), money is no object.

Luckily for geopolitical stability, Troyjo predicts China will be primarily focused on ensuring its own prosperity for at least the foreseeable future. “What China has been doing is consolidating an economic base that allows for prosperity over time,” says Troyjo. “It’s going to take a long time for China to be the geopolitical alternative many would like.”

Correction: A previous version of this article said Marcos Troyjo was an economics professor at Columbia University. He is actually an adjunct professor at Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs. His last name is also Troyjo, not Troyja.

TIME Economics

The High Cost of Heartbreak for Modern Singles

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Larry Washburn—Getty Images/fStop

Marina Adshade is the author Dollars and Sex: How Economics Influences Sex and Love.

The turmoil of ending a relationship can have a professional price tag

Almost one half of all Americans between the ages of 25 and 34 have never been married, while the majority of those say that they hope to marry one day (61% with absolute certainty). This suggests that there are millions of men and women in this age group who are working towards the goal of finding that one true love.

The road to marriage, however, is littered with broken hearts, as they say. This heartbreak is particularly severe for those who have been living with their romantic partner (24% of those in this age group), since those are the relationships that promise the most hope for marriage.

Heartbreak among unmarried young adults is common, with 36.5% of one study‘s participants aged 18 to 35 having experienced it at least once in the previous 20 months.

Experiencing disappointment in the search for true love is nothing new, however those in previous generations would have experienced it at a stage of their lives when those around them (parents, teachers, etc.) were likely to be sympathetic and there were few external costs.

This is much less true for modern singles, who often find themselves searching for love at the same time that they are also working hard to establish themselves in their careers. Broken hearts can’t be left at home during the work day, and the evidence suggests that employers, managers and coworkers don’t particularly appreciate them being brought to work.

In fact, it would be completely reasonable for a young ambitious single to fear the impact that a series of broken hearts could have on his or her career prospects.

Which raises an interesting point. The number one reason young singles give for not being married is that they are “not prepared financially” (34%). That justification for delaying marriage is a little difficult to understand within the context of modern marriage. Long gone are the days in which marriage meant that children would immediately follow, everyone would live on a single income and a house with a yard was the only acceptable living arrangement.

The reality is that individuals who are married are likely to achieve financial security much more quickly that those who remain unmarried, so delaying marriage for reasons of financial security doesn’t seem logical.

What does make sense, however, is that singles are unwilling to allow the turmoil that romantic relationships often bring to interfere with their path to financial security; that they worry that the search for love will lead to a broken heart, or series of broken hearts, that comes with a professional price tag.

If we really care that so many young people aren’t marrying, an argument could be made for bereavement leave for the broken hearted. Of course, for that to actually work people would have to be willing to phone in rejected and, frankly, I don’t see that happening.

Marina Adshade uses research, human insight and economic analysis to unlock the mysteries behind our actions, thoughts and preferences regarding sexual relationships, gender, love and power. She shows that every option, every decision and every outcome in the realm of sex and love is better understood through economics. Dr. Adshade has a Ph.D. from Queen’s University and currently teaches economics at the Vancouver School of Economics at the University of British Columbia.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME India

Why the World’s Most Powerful Leaders Really Love India

Xi Jinping, Narendra Modi
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping walk for a meeting in New Delhi, India, Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014. Manish Swarup—AP

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to India highlights the geopolitical contest reshaping Asia

Some of the world’s most important people are wooing India’s new Prime Minister Narendra Modi like teenage boys drooling over the homecoming queen. Less than a month ago, Modi was feted in Japan on his five-day official visit, during which he even received an unexpected hug from usually stiff Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. This week, Modi is hosting China’s President Xi Jinping, who upon his arrival in the country on Wednesday, proclaimed that Beijing wishes “to forge a closer development partnership and jointly realize our great dreams of building strong and prosperous nations.”

Why has Modi become so popular? The reason can be found in how Asia is changing, politically and economically. Ever since China’s paramount leader Deng Xiaoping launched his country’s remarkable economic miracle in the early 1980s, the old Cold War divisions in the region melted away amid increasing economic integration. According to the Asian Development Bank, trade between Asian countries accounted for 50% of their total trade in 2013, up from 30% in 1985. But with China flexing the political and military muscles it has acquired from growing wealth, Asia is becoming split into two camps once again – one centered on China, the other on the U.S. and its allies, including Japan, South Korea and the Philippines. Each side is looking to bolster its support in the region in order to gain leverage on the other. Tokyo, embroiled in a tense stand-off with Beijing over disputed islands in the East China Sea, is looking to build a network of allies to “contain” a rising China. Meanwhile, Beijing is aiming to create a power bloc of its own in the region to counteract U.S. influence.

India has become a key wild card in this new geopolitical power game. As a rising power in its own right, and a huge potential source of new business in everything from espressos to expressways, whichever side manages to lure New Delhi into its orbit will tilt the scales in its favor.

Both camps are making their best pitch. Japan’s Abe took the unusual step of traveling from Tokyo to the historic city of Kyoto to personally welcome Modi to the country. Xi ventured all the way to Modi’s home state of Gujarat on this visit, even donning an Indian-style vest. Abe sent off Modi with a promise of $33 billion of new investment. Xi is reportedly planning to top that during his India visit, dangling an even bigger package of $100 billion.

On purely economic grounds, you’d think Xi has an advantage in his quest for Modi’s favor. Trade between the two has exploded, to nearly $66 billion in 2013 from a mere $1.2 billion in 1996. Their economic links will likely continue to strengthen as Chinese companies become more and more important global investors and Chinese consumers more and more important customers. The world’s two most-populous nations would appear to have many economic interests in common as well. Their companies, accustomed to operating in an emerging economy and selling to emerging consumers, are attracted to the potential of each other’s markets. China’s Xiaomi, for instance, has successfully lured Indian customers to its cut-rate smartphones as it has in China. Wouldn’t Modi be wise to hitch his country to the world’s rising power, rather than Japan, a declining one? That would bring to life the economic power of what’s been termed “Chindia.”

But China-India relations are more complicated than that. After India’s independence in 1947, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru thought his new nation would find a friend in newly communist China. The spirit of the times was captured in the phrase Hindi Chini bhai-bhai, or “Indians and Chinese are brothers.” That hope was dashed, however. India has incensed China by allowing Tibet’s Dalai Lama, who Beijing considers a dangerous separatist, to reside in exile in India. Modi, in fact, invited Tibet’s prime minister-in-exile to his inauguration in May. Relations are also continually roiled by border disputes. In 1962, the two fought a nasty border war, and the causes of that conflict linger to this day. The two countries contest land along their border in India’s far north in Ladakh, while China claims India’s eastern province of Arunachal Pradesh. China perennially irritates India over these unresolved issues. Just last week, only days before Xi’s much-heralded visit, India charged that Chinese troops are building a road in the contested territory in Ladakh. In talks with Xi on Thursday, Modi urged the Chinese President to finally resolve their border disagreements.

Such tensions are clearly weighing on Modi’s mind. He has apparently embarked on a mission to upgrade India’s military capabilities and relationships. Abe and Modi during their recent summit agreed to strengthen military ties, and in August, New Delhi and Washington pledged to do the same during U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s visit to India. One of the first economic reforms Modi announced after becoming Prime Minister was easing restrictions on foreign investment into India’s defense sector, a move aimed at bolstering its technology and production capacities. It is an open secret who is the target of all these military moves. While in Japan, Modi took a swipe at an assertive China when he told business leaders in Tokyo that “everywhere around us, we see an 18th century expansionist mind-set: encroaching on another country, intruding in others’ waters, invading other countries and capturing territory.”

Modi, then, is attempting to have his halwa and eat it, too — playing off both sides to win as many goodies as he can. In his quest to restart India’s economic miracle by building much-needed infrastructure and boosting manufacturing, Modi will need all the money he can get — from China, the U.S., Japan and anyone else who is offering. India has always been wary of trying itself too tightly into any one political camp — during the Cold War Nehru was the leading figure behind what was known as the “nonaligned movement.” The question is how long Modi can play one side off the other. We may find out soon enough. Later this month, Modi will travel to Washington to meet with President Barack Obama. Let’s see what goodies he picks up there.

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