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Thesis & Antithesis

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greekdefaultwatch@gmail.com Natural gas consultant by day, blogger on the Greek economy by night. Trained as an economist and political scientist. I believe in common sense and in data, and my aim is to offer insight written in language that is clear and convincing.

15 July 2009

America in Numbers: Sex

Do not ask why but I just received and started reading my copy of the Statistical Abstract of the United States (2009), a 1,000-page tome with over 1,300 tables on every aspect of these united states. Before I scare you, or enrage you, or perhaps even bore you with teen pregnancy, abortion, infant mortality, unemployment, poverty, murder, and the like, I thought it best to grab your attention with an easy one: sex. Here you go, then, a brief summary of sex in the US.

The survey in the book looks at males and females 15 to 44 years old in 2002. Of the total, 90% have had sex with a partner of the opposite sex. The rate among teenagers (15-19 years) is lower obviously, but still around 61.6% for males and 62.2% for females. As you move towards older groups, the rate of people who have had sex increases, but there is still a 9% of both males and females with no sexual contact by age 24, and there is also a 1%-2% with no sex by the time they reach 35.

The median number of sexual partners is 5.4 for men and 3.3 for women, which is not surprising (as a fact as well as a result of bragging by men or understating by women). The distribution of sexual partners is skewed: only 12.8% of men report having had sex with only one woman versus 22.5% of females; similarly, 22.5% of males report having had 15 or more sexual partners, including 2.5% of teenage males and 1.9% of teenage females (high school and freshman year must have been crazy). By contrast, only 9.2% of females report having had more than 15 partners. In the middle range (2-14 partners), males and females are similar; they differ mainly on the extremes.

From a racial point of view, the median number of partners for blacks is reported at 8.3, versus 5.2 for non-Hispanic whites and 4.5 for those with Hispanic or Latino origin. For females, the mean is similar for whiles and blacks (3.6 versus 4.1) but much lower for Hispanics (1.7). Blacks are also reported to have a lower proportion of just one sexual partner (5.8%) and higher proportion of 15 and above (33.8% versus 22.3% for non-Hispanic whites). For females, 34.6% of Hispanics or Latinos report just one partner versus 21% of non-Hispanic whites and 12.4% of blacks. On the other extreme, 10.2% of non-Hispanic white women report 15 or more partners versus 8.8% of blacks and 4.6% of Hispanics.

In terms of same-sex contact, the rate for females is 11.2% versus 6% for males, which I think will satisfy a perennial male fantasy. The data on same-sex contact is more sparse but it is also worth noting that 3.4% of males currently married reported having had some same-sex experience; the number for married females was 7.2%.

The final statistic is sexual activity in the last twelve months: about 14.8% of males and 13.9% of females reported no sexual activity the past year. About 62.2% of males and 66.8% of females reported sex with only one person of the opposite sex, while 1% of males and 3.1% of females reported sexual contact with both the same and the opposite sex in the last twelve months. When it comes to teenagers, the spread is bigger with 0.9% of males reporting sex with both male and female in the last twelve months, a number that was 5.8% for females.

References: US Census Bureau, Statistical Abstract of the US 2009, Tables 92-93

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