PSC Working Paper Series

Document Type

Working Paper

Date of this Version



Greenwood, Jeremy and Nezih Guner. 2009. "Social Change: The Sexual Revolution." PSC Working Paper Series PSC 09-02.


In 1900 only six percent of unwed 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 a society's customs and more reflect the aggregation of decentralization decision making by its members, shifts in the economic environment may induce changes in what is perceived as culture.


Abortion, Abstinence, Bilateral search, Birth control, Birth control movement, Birth control pill, Coitus interruptus, Condoms, Contraception, Contraceptive revolution, Contraceptive technology, Demographic economics, Dissemination of knowledge, Effectiveness of contraception, General aggregative models, Intrauterine devices, Lifestyle, Markov chain, Pregnancies, Premarital intercourse, Premarital sex, Promiscuity, Reproduction, Sexual activity, Sexual behavior, Sexual partners, Sexual revolution, Social change, Social class, Social customs, Social mores, Technological change, Technological innovation, Technological progress in contraceptives, Teenage sexual activity, Teenagers, The Sexual Revolution



Date Posted: 28 April 2009

This document has been peer reviewed.