Social Change: The Sexual Revolution.
Greenwood, Jeremy and Nezih Guner. 2009.
University of Pennsylvania
In 1900 only six percent of unwed females engaged in premarital sex. Now, three quarters do.
The sexual revolution is studied here using an equilibrium matching model, where the costs of premarital sex fall over time due to technological improvement in contraceptives.
There may be no better illustration of social change than the sexual revolution that occurred during the 20th century. In 1900 almost no unmarried teenage girl engaged in premarital sex; only a paltry 6 percent By 2002 a large majority (roughly 75 percent) had experienced this. What caused this: the contraception revolution. (Sources for the U.S. data displayed in all …figures and tables are detailed in the Appendix, Section 12.5.)
Both the technology for contraception and education about its practice changed dramatically over the course of the last century.
Another reflection of the change in sexual mores is the rise in the number of sexual partners that unmarried females have. For women born between 1933 and 1942, the majority of those who engaged in premarital sex had only one partner by age 20, presumably their future husband. By the 1963-1972 cohort, the majority of these women had at least 2 partners.
Notwithstanding the great improvement in contraception technology and education, the number of out-of-wedlock births to females rose from 3 percent in 1920 to 33 percent in 1999. Despite great public concern about teenage sexual behavior in recent years, there has not been any attempt to build formal models of it. The current work will attempt to fill this void.
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