11 April 2009

In Real Life, Nobody Waits

Sexual abstinence until marriage is common in fiction and political rhetoric, but rare in real life.

Data from the 2002 survey indicate that by age 20, 77% of respondents had had sex, 75% had had premarital sex, and 12% had married; by age 44, 95% of respondents (94% of women, 96% of men, and 97% of those who had ever had sex) had had premarital sex. Even among those who abstained until at least age 20, 81% had had premarital sex by age 44. Among cohorts of women turning 15 between 1964 and 1993, at least 91% had had premarital sex by age 30. Among those turning 15 between 1954 and 1963, 82% had had premarital sex by age 30, and 88% had done so by age 44. . . .

By exact age 44, 99% of Americans had had sex, 95% had had sex before marriage, and 85% had married. At that age, 3.3% had abstained until marriage, and 1.3% had neither married nor had sex. . . . even among women who were born in the 1940s, nearly nine in ten had had premarital sex by age 44.

From here

Fewer than nine percent of people who never marry end their lives as virgins.


Michael Malak said...

Taking the glass-is-half-full approach, I am pleasantly surprised to see that as many as 1 in 30 wait until marriage. I would have guessed 1 in 100.

Andrew Oh-Willeke said...

An arguably deceptive element of that study is that it doesn't count the percentage of people who had pre-marital sex only with a person who ultimately became their spouse. This kind of "gun jumping" with a financee would be viewed as almost as pure, even by many who have a very romantic view of how sexual relationships should be tied to marriage.

(Then again, it also doesn't purport to measure extra-marital sex during marriage.)