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Traditional economic indicators are things like unemployment rates or housing starts, but economists delight in finding other indicators. One indicator is sales of Harlequin books. Harlequin claims, not unreasonably, that sales increase in bad economic times because people want something happy and books are cheap entertainment. Another indicator is signups for dating sites. Match.com claims people are looking for a distraction from their money problems, or someone to share the load.

It could be that some women read more and some women date more, but I’m wondering if these two indicators might be related – do women date more, get disappointed, and read more instead? Or do they read more, and decide it’s time to try real life romance? Some studies suggest romance novels affect women the same way online porn videos affect men – it becomes an addiction that makes real life partners less desirable. It that’s true, then women aren’t turning to real men after buying more books – they’re turning to more books after giving up on real men. Hmmm…I don’t think I’ve given up on finding a partner, but I have been reading more romances lately.

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