, Volume 42, Issue 7, pp 1119-1130
Date: 19 Apr 2013

Race Differentials in Partnering Patterns among Older U.S. Men: Influence of Androgens or Religious Participation?

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Using nationally representative data from the 2005–2006 U.S. National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project, this study queried race differences in older men’s polyamorous and casual sex, as well as stratification of these patterns by endogenous androgens (testosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone) and by regular religious participation. Results suggested that despite their respective prominence in the biomedical and sociological literatures on sex, neither “bottom up” hormonal influences nor “top down” religious social control were major structuring factors for greater lifetime as well as current likelihood of these behaviors among older Black than White men. Androgens were higher among the former, but did not seem to drive these race patterns. Regular church attendance—while negatively associated with non-monogamous and prolific partnering, and hence possibly a social control mechanism among all men—played only a weak role in moderating ethnic variations in these behaviors. It is speculated that these differences may instead be driven by unexamined current or early factors, including, perhaps, Black men’s greater exposure to sexualizing processes in adolescence that, even in late life, may outweigh more temporally-proximal influences.