What are the practical and economic reasons for our rules on sex and marriage?

Marina Adshade pulls back the curtain on where our cultural rules on sex and marriage may have originated:

Age of Consent: “When life expectancies are low we find that the age at which a woman could be said to consent to sex is also very low… When you are not going to live very long society wants you to get onto the serious business of reproduction as soon as possible. “

Age at marriage: “In the absence of reliable contraceptives, a strict prohibition of pre-marital sex is a good way to limit fertility. So limited resources and population pressures usually increase the age at which it is considered appropriate to marry… Societal norms that discouraged early marriage reduced fertility and prevented living standards from falling as a result.”

Adolescent childbearing: “When educational returns are high, as they are currently in the developed world, society takes a disapproving view of early childbearing. When returns are low, however, teenage childbearing is seen more favorably.”

Withholding sexual knowledge from children: “When homes were small, children grew up with parents who had sex in the same room in which they were sleeping. Our preoccupation with “protecting” our children from sexual knowledge is directly related to the size of our homes.”

For more on sex and attraction: A Billion Wicked Thoughts: What the World’s Largest Experiment Reveals about Human Desire.

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