I recently read this fascinating article in The New Yorker about religion and teen pregnancy and sexuality trends in the US:
Regnerus argues that religion is a good indicator of attitudes toward sex, but a poor one of sexual behavior, and that this gap is especially wide among teen-agers who identify themselves as evangelical. The vast majority of white evangelical adolescentsÃ¢â‚¬â€seventy-four per centÃ¢â‚¬â€say that they believe in abstaining from sex before marriage. (Only half of mainline Protestants, and a quarter of Jews, say that they believe in abstinence.)
A few interesting factoids that I took away from the piece: the states with the highest divorce and teen pregnancy rates in the country are all red states, and the ones with the lowest are mostly blue. It might be useful to map those states to per-capita income, to reflect how teen pregnancy pertains to income, not just political allegiance.
Even more interesting was that there’s a kind of tipping point for celibacy pacts in high school populations:
Bearman and BrÃƒÂ¼ckner have also identified a peculiar dilemma: in some schools, if too many teens pledge, the effort basically collapses. Pledgers apparently gather strength from the sense that they are an embattled minority; once their numbers exceed thirty per cent, and proclaimed chastity becomes the norm, that special identity is lost. With such a fragile formula, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s hard to imagine how educators can ever get it right: once the self-proclaimed virgin clique hits the thirty-one-per-cent mark, suddenly itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Sodom and Gomorrah.
There’s a useful marketing lesson in there somewhere, about tribes and passionate users (or non-users, as the case may be).