Pornography’s Impact on Marriage: An Econometric Approach

Abstract

I study the effects of pornography use on marital strife and infidelity for married men. I conclude that pornography use is correlated with greater marital strife, a more accepting attitude toward adultery, a greater number of sexual partners since age 18, and a greater likelihood of having committed adultery.

Introduction

The growth of the Internet has lowered the costs, increased the accessibility, and furthered the anonymity of one of males’ favorite vices—pornography. Although the discussion of pornography has long been considered taboo, its effects are now coming under greater scrutiny as both its use and acceptance are growing quickly. From a study by Adult Video News, the adult entertainment industry made approximately $12.6 billion in revenue in 2005. More than 70% of men from ages 18 to 34 visit a pornographic site at least once in a typical month (comScore). In addition, according to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, the Internet was a significant factor in two out of three divorces in 2003, with excessive use of online pornography contributing to over half of such cases. While some with more traditional or religious values are quick to oppose pornography, its use is becoming more accepted by society as a whole and received especially well by young adults (Carroll). And when you add to this the proponents of free speech who see any attempt to regulate pornography as a violation of one’s rights and those who believe pornography serves as an outlet and actually reduces the number of rapes and violent crimes, you’ve got yourself quite the debate. Because pornography consumption has recently been increasing at an unparalleled rate, researchers are starting to examine potential consequences of its use. This has resulted in the emergence of new datasets and studies that have enabled us to look at the effects of pornography on the user, surrounding family members and friends, and society as a whole.

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by Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D.

This article was first published at Townhall.com on February 27, 2006.

As the author of a book called Smart Sex, I have become an expert on many forms of Dumb Sex. One of the weirdest to come to my attention is pornography addiction. I know, I know, we all have First Amendment Right to view just about anything we want, as much as we want, any time we want. But that doesn’t mean that every legal activity we choose is intelligent. If you’d rather view pornography than have a relationship with a real person, you’ve got a personal problem. And if you’ve got a nation full of young men mesmerized by porn videos, sex will become a spectator sport. That’s gotta hurt the birth rate. And it’s hard to believe its ultimately as much fun or as satisfying as the Real Thing.

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