In the hood: effects on love, sex and marriage - 4/04

Smart Marriages ® cmfce at
Thu May 6 17:17:04 EDT 2004

subject: Cultural effects on love, sex and marriage - 4/04

from: Smart Marriages®


Two fascinating articles - interesting how our "neighborhoods" influences
love, sex and marriage trends.  - diane
04 May 2004 

> Couples with marriages between four and five years old were the most likely to
> divorce. After five years, the risk of divorce decreases.

> Marriages in Newfoundland and Labrador had the lowest divorce rate over 30
> years. Not quite 22 per cent of marriages there ended in divorce in 2002.
> Quebec, however, had a divorce rate of 47.6 per cent.
OTTAWA - Newfoundlanders are the least likely to head for divorce court,
while Quebecers get divorced more readily than all other Canadians,
according to data released by Statistics Canada on Tuesday.

The data show there were fewer divorces in 2002 than in previous years, but
the rate of divorces per 100 marriages remained nearly constant.

And for the first time, fewer than half of the dependents were put in
custody of the wife in 2002. Of 35,000 dependents for whom custody was
awarded by the courts, 49.5 per cent went to the wife.

About 42 per cent of dependents were put into joint custody.

In 1988, custody for 75 per cent of dependents was granted to the wife in
divorce proceedings.

After three years of consecutive growth, the number of couples having
divorces finalized in 2002 shrank to 70,155, down 1.3 per cent from 2001.

The all-time peak year was 1987, when about 96,000 divorces were finalized.

Despite the reduction in the number of divorces, the rate at which Canadians
are getting divorced has remained nearly stable.

The divorce rate is the proportion of marriages that end in divorce within
30 years. 

In 2002, the rate was 37.9 per cent. It was 37.6 per cent in 2001, and in
2000 it was 37.7 per cent.

The longer a marriage lasts, the less likely it is to end in divorce. About
60 per cent of the divorces in 2001 and 2002 hadn't reached their 15th

Couples with marriages between four and five years old were the most likely
to divorce. After five years, the risk of divorce decreases.

Marriages in Newfoundland and Labrador had the lowest divorce rate over 30
years. Not quite 22 per cent of marriages there ended in divorce in 2002.

Quebec, however, had a divorce rate of 47.6 per cent.

Written by CBC News Online staff

May 1, 2004
New York Times 


Sex is pretty elemental. We share the same basic biology.

We watch nationally broadcast TV shows and movies designed for international
audiences. You'd think you'd be able to drive across a few neighborhoods in
this country and come across reasonably similar sexual behavior patterns.

But you'd be wrong.

Edward Laumann of the University of Chicago and several other academics have
recently published a research project called "The Sexual Organization of the
City." They've found that people construct highly evolved sexual
marketplaces, venues where they go to find sex partners. These marketplaces,
at least in cities, are incredibly localized; people are not inclined to
cross ethnic, racial, sociological or geographical boundaries when looking
for a bed mate. Each of these discrete marketplaces has its own rules, and
the sex practices in one neighborhood may look nothing like those in the

The authors of the study culled data from thousands of interviews in several
Chicago neighborhoods and compared behavior across the communities. For
example, one of the neighborhoods they studied is a struggling
African-American community they call (pseudonymously) Southtown. This area
has seen its jobs disappear, its main commercial strip wither. There are
more women than men. The men take advantage of their market power to become
polygamous. At any moment, almost 40 percent of the men are maintaining
long-term relationships with at least two sexual partners. The more educated
the man is, and presumably the more desirable he is to women, the more
likely he is to be juggling multiple partners.

If men can have multiple partners, they have little incentive to limit
themselves; marriage rates drop. Though they face a shortage of
African-American men of equal status, Southtown's women tend not to look
outside black neighborhoods.

A few miles away, there is a largely Hispanic neighborhood the academics
call Westside. About half the people here are foreign-born, many from rural
areas of Mexico. Mores here are traditional. Sixty-four percent of single
men and 57 percent of single women say men should work and women should stay
home to raise the kids.

While roughly two-thirds of the non-Hispanic men in Chicago reported ever
having one-night stands, very few of the men in Westside did. Half of the
men and three-quarters of the women believe it is wrong to have sex without
love. People here are much more likely to meet future sexual partners in a
family member's home, and much less likely to talk openly about sexually
transmitted diseases.

Shoreland is an affluent white neighborhood on the near northwest side.
There is a large gay and lesbian population, and sex is more likely to be
impersonal. About 43 percent of the gay men in Shoreland have had more than
60 partners. This neighborhood, too, has developed its own social
institutions. A local softball league has become a place where lesbians can
go to meet possible partners. Though people here are better educated, their
social lives are still tightly bounded. Over 75 percent of the gays and
lesbians interviewed said that most or all of their friends are gay, lesbian
or bisexual. 

When you step back from this data, you see that, first, there has been a
flowering of diverse sexual zones. This spontaneous evolution is so rapid,
it is very difficult for big institutions to keep up. How can the city
government of Chicago design health and welfare programs for areas as
different as Southtown, Westside and Shoreland? How can the churches and
other moral authorities keep up?

Second, sexual marketplaces are a rapidly expanding feature of society, and
they are becoming more distinct from marriage marketplaces. Furthermore, as
the sex markets become bigger and more efficient, people have less incentive
to get married. As the scholars Yoosik Youm and Anthony Paik write,
"Opportunities in the sex market act as constraints in the marriage market."

The big problem here is that there is an overwhelming body of evidence to
suggest that marriage correlates highly with happiness. Children raised in
marriages tend to have more opportunities than children raised outside

Over all, Americans are spending much less time married. They marry later
and divorce at high rates, and remarry less and less. We are replacing
marriage, one of our most successful institutions, with hooking up. This is
a deep structural problem, and very worrying.   

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