Acceptance of Sex Before Marriage (GSS)

Using the General Social Survey data, I try to investigate which factor is the most determinant of the acceptance of teen sex and sex before marriage. For this purpose, I use the logit regression. Below are the variables used in the regressions.

SEX – 1 = MALE, 2 = FEMALE.

DEGREE – 0 = Less than high school, 1 = High school, 2 = Junior College, 3 = Bachelor, 4 = Graduate.

WORDSUM – a proxy for IQ, correlation = 0.71; 0.83 for “g”. Recoded as follows : WORDSUM (r:0-2;3-4;5-6;7-8;9-10). 5 point-scale.

REALINC (r:0-15000;15000-30000;30000-45000;45000-60000;60000-*). 5 point-scale. Family income on 1972-2006 surveys in constant dollars (base = 1986).

POLVIEWS – 1 = Extremely liberal, 4 = Moderate, 7 = Extremely conservative. Recoded as follows : POLVIEWS (r:1-2;3;4;5;6-7). 5 point-scale.

ATTEND – 0 = Never, 8 = More than once week. Recoded as follows : ATTEND (r:0;1-2;3-4;5-6;7-8). 5 point-scale.

MARITAL – 1 = Married, 2 = Widowed, 3 = Divorced, 4 = Separated, 5 = Never Married. Recoded as follows : MARITAL (r:1;2-5). 2 point-scale.

AGE (r:18-30;31-40;41-50;51-60;61-70;71-90). 6 point-scale. Respondent’s age.

YEAR (r:1972-1980;1981-1989;1990-1999;2000-*). 4 point-scale.

Because the GSS asks the question in every survey year since 1972 we should also control for the survey year. YEAR may be used for this purpose.

Keep in mind that an independent variable with a low point-scale (say, 2) is expected to have a higher coefficient than an independent variable with a high point-scale (say, 10). In fact, a change in one unit of an independent variable with a high point-scale would have a very little effect, especially when the independent variable can take on many values (for instance, years, age, or income), on the dependent variable.

PREMARSX – If a man and woman have sex relations before marriage, do you think it is always wrong, almost always wrong, wrong only sometimes, or not wrong at all?. 1 = Always wrong, 2 = Almost always wrong, 3 = Sometimes wrong, 4 = Not wrong at all. Recoded as follows : PREMARSX (d:3-4). The dummy variable created means that the cases coded 3 through 4 receive a code of 1. In other words, cases coded 1 through 2 receive a code of 0.

Allocation of cases (unweighted)
Valid cases – 13,886
Cases excluded by filter or weight – 10,214
Cases with invalid codes on variables in the analysis – 30,987
Total cases – 55,087

Here, being educated, intelligent, and rich are positively associated with the acceptance of sex before marriage while being a woman, a conservative, a religious, being old and married are negatively associated with the acceptance of sex before marriage. The positive sign of YEAR shows that acceptance of sex before marriage is growing over time.

TEENSEX – What if they are in their early teens, say 14 to 16 years old?. 1 = Always wrong, 2 = Almost always wrong, 3 = Sometimes wrong, 4 = Not wrong at all. Recoded as follows : TEENSEX (d:3-4). The dummy variable created means that the cases coded 3 through 4 receive a code of 1. In other words, cases coded 1 through 2 receive a code of 0.

Allocation of cases (unweighted)
Valid cases – 10,470
Cases excluded by filter or weight – 10,214
Cases with invalid codes on variables in the analysis – 34,403
Total cases – 55,087

Here, being educated and non-married are positively associated with acceptance of teen sex, while being a woman, a religious, a conservative and old are negatively associated with acceptance of teen sex. Curiously, YEAR has a negative sign, which means that we are less accepting of teen sex today than before. But the coefficient is not statistically significant.

Using COHORT variable – recoded as follows : COHORT (r:1883-1910;1911-1930;1931-1950;1951-1970;1971-1992) – in place of YEAR yields the same results for the two regressions.

Why education is associated with acceptance of teen sex/sex before marriage is not very clear. Maybe the tendency for the ill-modern societies to celebrate the sexualisation of teenagers, promiscuity being seen as a virtue and a natural way of life, can explain the association between education and acceptance of teen sex. Institutions such as schools may help children and adolescent to develop liberal views even when it comes to sex. The positive link between WORDSUM and PREMARSX can be explained by the open-mindedness of intelligent people who accept everything more easily, regardless of whether this is good or bad.

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