Monday, February 16, 2004


The administration's abstinence program is being promoted at full bore. Now I'm all for reducing teen pregnancy, the spread of STD's and so on, and for the most part I agree with critics who suggest that abstinence-only programs don't work for everyone, or even for most people.

One thing I haven't seen is any study of the effect of abstinence programs on divorce rates which surprises me a bit. I went to high school in rural Utah, where the dominant culture is very conservative and frowns strongly on pre-marital sex. Partially as a result of this, many of my fellow high-school students were rather sexually frustrated[1] and a lot of them were married within a couple of years of graduation, and a lot of them were divorced a few years after that.

I do, of course, have an opinion about why this happened. In the end there are a lot of reasons to get married, but wanting to get laid just doesn't seem to me to be a strong foundation for a life together. At some point you're going to wake up and realize that you've pretty much exhausted the Kama Sutra (link not work-safe), and you don't have much else in common. Unless you can find additional common ground, it seems like divorce is going to look pretty attractive at that point. So where are the studies linking dedicated abstinence-minded teenagers and subsequent divorce rates? Or are there just so few of the former that no study could be statistically significant?

[1] This shouldn't be construed as implying that I wasn't. In addition to being too interested in math by half, I was in the band and on the debate team. 'nuff said...