Premarital Sex Rises With Economies

I have been analyzing Pew data on acceptance of premarital sex around the globe to see whether it fits in with the ecology of modern life. Is acceptance of premarital sex higher in developed countries? What about the risks of pregnancy, and disease? What about female participation in the workforce?

Acceptance of Premarital Sex Around the World
For the sake of simplicity, I looked at Pew data on disapproval of premarital sex (respondents having the option of saying it is “morally acceptable, morally unacceptable, or not a moral issue.” Disapproval of premarital sex ranged from a high of 97 percent in Indonesia to just 6 percent of respondents in Germany and France selecting the “morally unacceptable” option.

Why is premarital sex almost universally condemned in Indonesia and almost universally tolerated in France? There are a great many possible influences, not all of which are yet known. Yet, one of the more obvious possibilities is economic development, based on attitudes to casual sex. France is a much more developed economy than Indonesia with Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per person (corrected for consumer prices) of $40,400 in France compared to $10,200 in Indonesia.

More developed countries have greater acceptance of premarital sex for various reasons related to the changing economic roles of women. GDP was strongly correlated with disapproval of premarital sex and this correlation explained half of the differences (52 percent).

Even with GDP statistically controlled, countries with more women in the workforce were more accepting of premarital sex. The underlying rationale seems fairly obvious. As more women pursue education, paid employment, and careers, the age of marriage gets pushed up. This means that it is not unusual for a first marriage to occur 15 years after a woman becomes —> Read More