Older Americans: Changing sexual attitudes?

This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series Older Americans

Pregnancy test resultOlder Americans are changing their minds. Yesterday, we noted that a majority of older Americans—ages 55 and up—now say that gay and lesbian relations are morally acceptable.

Today, let’s look at another controversial issue: What do older Americans think about the moral acceptability of having a baby outside of marriage? How about premarital sex?

The year 2003 was the first time that a majority of Americans said that having a baby outside of wedlock was morally acceptable, according to Gallup. In that year, only 39% of older Americans agreed. But times have changed: 2013 is the first time that a majority of older Americans (57%) also say that a baby outside of marriage is morally acceptable.

Older Americans are also changing their attitudes about the acceptability of sex between an unmarried man and unmarried woman. Today, a clear majority (56%) of older Americans say that premarital sex is morally acceptable. In 2002, the figure was only 34%.

Of course, there are still big differences between the attitudes of younger and older Americans. Over seven of ten Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 say that having a baby outside of marriage is morally acceptable, and that premarital sex is also morally acceptable. But the big news is that a majority of every age group now say that unmarried sex and a baby outside of marriage are OK.

Do you believe that it is morally acceptable to have a baby outside of marriage?

Is premarital sex morally acceptable?

Are you surprised by these shifts in older Americans’ attitudes?

Please leave a comment below:

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Comments: (1)
Categories: Equal OpportunitiesFreedom


  1. bernadette says:

    When surveys of topics (especially sensitive ones like these) arise, I often think of an old saying my mother used to say: “If everyone goes and jumps in the lake and drowns, does that mean you are going to, too?” If “everyone (whoever they are)” believe in something, it doesn’t mean I must. Sometimes I believe that surveys (although in many instances very reputable) don’t always include every demographic. For instance, what if this same poll was taken of people who attend church every week, I doubt that the results would be the same. Some might say that the survey would then be skewed; however, I truly don’t believe that surveys are always reliable or represent every group.

    Having said all of this, no, I don’t believe that having a child out of wedlock is “acceptable” and I also don’t believe that premarital sex is good for a relationship. People in our world want everything “now” and don’t value waiting for something that is so very important — a gift we provide our spouse. That philosophy also permeates the financial world — buy everything on credit and pay later. Sometimes, the “pay later” doesn’t always work out — just look at the recent recession and all the ensuing problems.

    The morals of many in our country have changed, but I wish to keep mine as they are.