Social Change: The Sexual Revolution

31 Pages Posted: 1 Jan 2011

See all articles by Jeremy Greenwood

Jeremy Greenwood

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Nezih Guner

ICREA-MOVE; Autonomous University of Barcelona; Barcelona Graduate School of Economics (Barcelona GSE)

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In 1900 only 6% of unwed teenage females engaged in premarital sex. Now, three quarters do. The sexual revolution is studied here using an equilibrium matching model, where the costs of premarital sex fall over time due to technological improvement in contraceptives. Individuals differ in their desire for sex. Given this, people tend to circulate in social groups where prospective partners share their views on premarital sex. To the extent that society's customs and mores reflect the aggregation of decentralized decision making by its members, shifts in the economic environment may induce changes in what is perceived as culture.

Suggested Citation

Greenwood, Jeremy and Guner, Nezih, Social Change: The Sexual Revolution. International Economic Review, Vol. 51, No. 4, pp. 893-923, 2010, Available at SSRN: or

Jeremy Greenwood (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Economics ( email )

Ronald O. Perelman Center for Political Science
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Philadelphia, PA 19104-6297
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215-898-1505 (Phone)


National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Nezih Guner

ICREA-MOVE ( email )

Campus de Bellaterra-UAB Edifici B (s/n)
Cerdanyola del Vallès
, Barcelona 08193

Autonomous University of Barcelona ( email )

Plaça Cívica
Cerdañola del Valles
Barcelona, Barcelona 08193

Barcelona Graduate School of Economics (Barcelona GSE) ( email )

Ramon Trias Fargas, 25-27
Barcelona, Barcelona 08005

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