Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Extramarital sex by religion and gender

(Post #3 in a series)
Here are data from the General Social Survey regarding extramarital sex by religious affliation.

Again, the question is: "have you ever had with sex someone other than your husband or wife while you were married."

The first number is the ery rate for women, the second number for men, and the third number is the ratio between the two. I.e., the % men divided by % women. I list them in ascending order of gender ratios.

(Women, Men, gender difference (male%/female%)
23.1%, 28.6%, 1.2 No religious affiliation
9.8%, 13.1%, 1.3 Evangelical, active
18.9%, 27.6%, 1.5 Other religions, non-active
15.3%, 23.0%, 1.5 Catholic, non-active
14.9%, 25.8%, 1.7 Evangelical, non-active
11.6%, 19.6%, 1.7 Jewish (predominately infrequent attenders)
21.0%, 37.0%, 1.8 Black Protestant, non-active
12.2%, 22.0%, 1.8 All Christians
8.0%, 14.0%, 1.8 Mainline Protestant, active
12.4%, 23.5%, 1.9 Mainline Protestant, non-active
14.8%, 30.5%, 2.1 Black Protestant, active
7.4%, 21.1%, 2.9 Other religions, active
6.0%, 18.3%, 3.1 Catholic, active

There is quite a gender difference across religious affiliations--something I didn't expect at all.

I have some off-the-cuff explanations for the patterns observed above, but let me ask it as a question. What patterns do you see in the data? Why do actively religious men and women act so differently compared to non-religious men and women?
n = 13,098


Jay Livingston said...

The obvious answer is that they take their religion seriously; they are active in the church, and they follow its proscriptions.

But the effects might be dampened if you control for age. I would imagine that older people are both more religious and, for reasons that have little to do with religion,less adulterous.

Corey said...

Brad, I'm struck by the high percentage of active black protestant males. What kinds of N's are we dealing with here? Are there enough cases to be confident in the representativeness of this sample for specific groups?

Brad Wright said...

Jay, I agree that taking religion seriously matters, and maybe women take it more seriously. Still, I control for that a bit by stratifying by weekly attendance. So with Catholics and Mainline Prots, inactive women have lower rates than active men.

Corey, the n for nonactive black protestant females is 257, active females = 240, inactive males = 176, active males = 99. I try to keep my cell sizes at least n = 100, though no particular reason for that number.

Brad Wright said...

Just a thought... would religion affect men and women's sexual behavior differently?

S.S.Stone said...

no i don't think so

Gary S. said...

This is surprising.

Perhaps, with respect to sexual mores, athiests are socialized the same regardless of gender. But religous people are socialized differently by gender when it comes to sexual mores. Or perhaps the different socialization affects certain traits related to sexual behavior?

I'm interested to see where you go with this.

Brad Wright said...

Interesting thoughts Gary... the idea of religious families socializing their children different by gender certainly makes sense... lots of literature on that!