Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Trends in attitudes toward premarital sex

All ages

Ages 18-29

Ages 30-44


Ages 45-59


Ages 60 plus

From studies I've read, the consensus that premarital sex is wrong had collapsed by 1970 in America, but I wonder how attitudes have trended since then among different age groups. The top graph includes all ages, and it shows that the percent saying it's wrong was flat and roughly about 50% through the 80s and 90s, but the attitude grew quite a bit in the 70s and then again in this decade.

Among young adults (second graph) Americans thinking it's not wrong have been more constant, but those thinking it is sometimes wrong has shrunk, while those saying it's always or almost always wrong has actually grown. This shows that young people are more likely to have extreme views one way or the other.

The group ages 30-44 moved in a more accepting direction in the 70s, while the next age group (45-59) gradually became more accepting over the four decades. The oldest group has changed the most since 2000.

The percent of 60 and older who think premarital sex is always fine had been a small share of the total for 30 years. I assume it has been changing in the past few years as Boomers are entering the age range. It looks like this attitude has gone from the minority to majority position because of changes in the 70s, and more recently the dwindling of the greatest generation. This leads to the prediction that acceptance will continue to grow.

It looks like it's been old and religious people versus everyone else. You can't bring back the dead, so I guess folks like me need to work for greater religiosity. Tall order.

5 comments:

Ronduck said...

A good measure of real attitudes towards premarital sex would be to see what the average age of loss of virginity is in each birth cohort.

I amazed I can write the above sentence and still have trouble reading the Saletan articles posted over at iSteve.

Anonymous said...

data source???? please cite the survey or website, so we can access data ;) thanks

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Andrew said...

A good measure of real attitudes towards premarital sex would be to see what the average age of loss of virginity is in each birth cohort. I amazed I can write the above sentence and still have trouble reading the Saletan articles posted over at iSteve.

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