Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Study Finds 95 Percent of Americans Have Had Premarital Sex

A new study found that 95 percent of Americans have had sex before marriage, with women virtually as likely as men to do so -- even women born in the 1940s. Study author Lawrence Finer is a research director with the Guttmacher Institute, which studies sexual and reproductive issues and opposes abstinence-only sex education. He said, "This is reality-check research. Premarital sex is normal behavior for the vast majority of Americans, and has been for decades."

The study was based on interviews with more than 38,000 people, conducted in 1982, 1988, 1995 and 2002. According to Finer's analysis, 95 percent had had sex before marriage. Among women born between 1950 and 1978, 91 percent had premarital sex by age 30, and among women born in the 1940s, 88 percent had done so by age 44.

Finer said the likelihood of Americans having premarital sex has remained stable since the 1950s, but people now wait longer to get married and are therefore sexually active as single people for extensive periods. Therefore, instead of abstinence-only programs, he said, "It would be more effective to provide young people with the skills and information they need to be safe once they become sexually active -- which nearly everyone eventually will."

I don't buy these stats for a minute. Especially when it comes to my parent's and grandparent's generation. First of all there is an agenda here the Guttmacher Institute is an arm of Planned Parenthood the nation's largest abortion provider. They have always been opposed to abstinence-only sex education. This would be like the Catholic Church coming up with a study that said condoms don't work. Everybody would consider the findings suspect. I do believe the rate of premarital sex is much higher now than it was in the 40s, 50s and 60s due in large part to the advent of the pill. The pill took a lot of the risk out and made sex a recreational sport. I spoke with an Episcopalian Minister not long ago who told me he hasn't married a chaste couple in 25 years, they were either living together or sexually active. Are we fooling ourselves? Even if these findings were true(which I doubt) does that mean we shouldn't hold abstinence up as the ideal?


At 7:51 PM, Blogger Tim said...

I have a great deal of difficulty buying the stats as well. One discrepancy I noticed in the report is that an earlier analysis of the same data suggested that 85% of all women who married engaged in premarital sex while the more recent analysis would suggest the number is significantly higher - actually close to the population average of 95%. The data is the same but the analysis is different.

Fundamentally, the biggest problem is the way the stats are being used.... everyone does it therefore it is morally acceptable. This relativistic view of morality is bankrupt. Imagine someone doing the same study related to lying - everyone at one point or another has done it so it must be ok.

Also, if you read the published article, it is clear that the percentage of teenagers engaging in premarital sex has risen.

At 12:46 PM, Blogger CJ said...

The Planned Parenthood angle is mostly a red herring. The study was designed and conducted under a federal contract by independent survey agencies (University of Michigan managed the 2002 survey). All Finer did is analyze the data. (No question that ten people can analyze the same data and come up with ten different conclusions though probably not drastically different ones.)

The 85% analysis that Tim mentioned does appear to have a flaw in how it counted people who had not married by the time of the 2002 survey.

If you look at Finer's article you'll see that the median age for pre-marital sex is creeping up for each age cohort. In 50 years it went from 20 to 17.

If you want to question the study, look at the response rate. 20% of people refused to participate. 20% of people refused to talk about their sex lives for an hour with a complete stranger. The question is whether that biases the sample.


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