Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 41, Issue 4, pp 861–873

Sexual Infidelity in China: Prevalence and Gender-Specific Correlates


  • Na Zhang
    • Sociology DepartmentRenmin University of China
    • Sociology DepartmentUniversity of Chicago
  • Yingying Huang
    • Sociology DepartmentRenmin University of China
    • Institute of Sexuality & GenderRenmin University of China
  • Suiming Pan
    • Institute of Sexuality & GenderRenmin University of China
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10508-012-9930-x

Cite this article as:
Zhang, N., Parish, W.L., Huang, Y. et al. Arch Sex Behav (2012) 41: 861. doi:10.1007/s10508-012-9930-x


The nature of extra-relational sex in societies with rapidly changing sexual mores and widespread commercial sex remains under-explored. The 2006 Sexuality Survey of China provides a national probability survey with data on 3,567 people 18–49 years old who were in a marital (89%) or dating/cohabiting (11%) relationship. In attitudes, extramarital sex was completely unacceptable to 74% of women and 60% of men and either somewhat or completely unacceptable to 95% of women and men. Most (77%) women wanted severe punishment of men’s short-term commercial sex and women’s jealousy was equally elevated by their primary partner’s episodes of commercial and non-commercial sex. Nevertheless, the prevalence of infidelity during the last 12 months was 4.5% (women’s non-commercial sex), 11.0% (men’s non-commercial), and 5.5% (men’s commercial), with each percent matching or exceeding the median for other countries. In multivariate equations for non-commercial infidelity, men’s infidelity was significantly more responsive to sexual dissatisfaction with his primary partner while women’s was more responsive to deficits in love. In commercial sex, men were uninfluenced by primary partner deficits in love, sexual satisfaction or oral sex–pursuing, it would seem, simply a greater variety of sexual partners. In a “trading up” pattern, women partnered with low income men had elevated infidelity. The minority of women reporting early masturbation and premarital sex were just as likely as men with these backgrounds to have elevated infidelity. The Chinese patterns provide ample material for deliberations on gender similarities and differences in extra-relational sex.


InfidelityExtramarital sexExtrapair sexGender differencesChinaCommercial sex

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012