Reported Premarital Sex: Explaining India's Gender Divide

Monday, July 14, 2014: 8:15 PM
Room: Booth 53
Oral Presentation
Nilanjan RAGHUNATH , Singapore Univ Technology & Design, Singapore, Singapore
Philip TRUSCOTT , Singapore University of Technology and Design, Singapore
The popular media tell us that the Indian premarital sex rates have risen sharply in recent decades. On closer examination, these reports appear to misrepresent the data.  Local surveys have been portrayed as national. Research on one age cohort has been reported as if it covered multiple decades. The only multi-decade national survey to ask detailed sexual history questions is National Family Health Survey (IIPS, 2006b).  Confining the analysis to sexual and marital history of men and women at the age of 24, it is possible to draw appropriately comparable samples of respondents from this survey representing different age cohorts based on year of birth.  This shows no clear increase in the level of reported female premarital sex over time. For male respondents the rate rose from a low of 2.45% for those born in the period 1962-66 to a high of 6.98% for those born in 1977-81.  The discussion below suggests some social forces that may have reduced the level of female premarital sex, but these do not explain why the reported rates are not symmetrical between men and women.