Sexuality & Culture

, Volume 22, Issue 2, pp 614–631 | Cite as

Attitudes Towards Premarital Sex in India: Traditionalism and Cultural Change

  • Chirodip MajumdarEmail author
Original Paper


Every society changes with time. With prosperity and improvement in economic conditions, values change. Traditional values that a society carries attenuate and modernity replaces age-old notions. The present article inspects the sixth wave of the World Values Survey examining changing perceptions of Indian respondents towards sex before marriage. It is observed that premarital sex in India is becoming more common but still not widespread. The ordered logit regression analysis reveals that whereas religious minded, single and left-leaning respondents are more traditional, respondents belonging to higher class or lower education level are more permissive about premarital sex. The article concludes that with the increase in permissiveness towards premarital sex and the possibility of unprotected, risky sexual behaviour, suitable policies should be adopted to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections.


Attitude Perception Premarital sex Social change Tradition Value 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The author declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Human and Animals Rights

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by the authors.

Informed Consent

The case of informed consent does not apply.


  1. Abraham, J., & Rahardjo, W. (2015). Psychopathy, sexual values dimensions, and premarital sexual behaviour among urban unmarried adolescents. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 165, 2–11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Abraham, L., & Kumar, K. A. (1999). Sexual experiences and their correlates among college students in Mumbai city, India. International Family Planning Perspectives, 25(3), 139–146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Adeoye, A. O., Omolayo, O., & Bose, A. (2012). Prevalence of premarital sex and factors influencing it among students in a private tertiary institution in Nigeria. International Journal of Psychology and Counselling, 4(1), 6–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Agarwal, A., Bloom, S. S., Suchindran, C., Curtis, S., & Angeles, G. (2014). Gender-based power and couples’ HIV risk in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, North India. International Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 40(4), 196–205.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Akerlof, G. A., Yellen, J. L., & Katz, M. L. (1996). An analysis of out-of-wedlock childbearing in the United States. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 111(2), 277–317.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Alexander, M., Garda, L., Kanade, S., Jejeebhoy, S., & Ganatra, B. (2007). Correlates of premarital relationships among unmarried youth in Pune district, Maharashtra, India. International Family Planning Perspectives, 33(4), 150–159.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Barkan, S. E. (2006). Religiosity and premarital sex in adulthood. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 45(3), 407–417.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bhende, A. (1994). A study of sexuality of adolescent girls and boys in underprivileged groups in Bombay. Indian Journal of Social Work, 55(4), 557–571.Google Scholar
  9. Brown, S. L., Lee, G. R., & Bulanda, J. R. (2006). Cohabitation among older adults: A national portrait. The Journal of Gerantology, 61(2), S71–S79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Call, V., Sprecher, S., & Schwartz, P. (1995). The incidence and frequency of marital sex in a national sample. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 57(3), 639–652.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Christensen, H. T., & Johnson, L. B. (1978). Premarital coitus and the Southern Black, a comparative view. Journal of Marriage and Family, 40(4), 721–732.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Clayton, R. R. (1969). Religious orthodoxy and premarital sex. Social Forces, 47(4), 469–474.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Dare, O. O., & Cleland, J. G. (1994). Reliability and validity of survey data on sexual behaviour. Health Transition Review, 4(supplementary), 93–110.Google Scholar
  14. Diener, E., Sah, E. M., Lucas, R. E., & Smith, H. L. (1999). Subjective well being: Three decades of progress. Psychological Bulletin, 125(2), 276–302.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Erkmen, H., Dilbaz, N., Seber, G., Kaptanoglu, C., & Tekin, D. (1990). Sexual attitudes of Turkish university students. Journal of Sex Education and Therapy, 16(4), 251–261.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Fenton, K. A., Johnson, A. M., McManus, S., & Erens, B. (2001). Measuring sexual behaviour: Methodological challenges in survey research. Sexually Transmitted Infections, 77(2), 84–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Fernandez-Dols, J. M., & Ruiz-Belda, M. A. (1995). Are smiles a sign of happiness? Gold medal winners at the Olympic games. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69(6), 1113–1119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Garrison, M. (2008). Nonmarital cohabitation: Social revolution and legal regulation. Family Law Quarterly, 42(3), 309–331.Google Scholar
  19. Geugten, J. V. D., Meijel, B. V., Den Uyl, M. H. G., & De Vries, N. K. (2013). Virginity, sex, money and desire: Premarital sexual behaviour of youths in Bolgatanga municipality, Ghana. African Journal of Reproductive Health, 17(4), 93–106.Google Scholar
  20. Ghani, S. A., Abdullah, S., Akil, S. M. S., & Nordin, N. (2014). Muslim adolescents moral value and coping strategy among Muslim female adolescent involved in premarital sex. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 114, 427–433.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Ghuman, S., Loi, V. M., Huy, V. T., & Knodel, J. (2006). Continuity and change in premarital sex in Vietnam. International Family Planning Perspectives, 32(4), 166–174.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Graham, C., Eggers, A., & Sukhtankar, S. (2004). Does happiness pay? An exploration based on panel data from Russia. Journal of Economic Behaviour and Organization, 55(2), 319–342.Google Scholar
  23. Greenwood, J., & Guner, N. (2010). Social change: The sexual revolution. International Economic Review, 51(4), 893–923.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hindin, J., & Hindin, M. J. (2009). Premarital romantic partnerships: Attitudes and sexual experiences of youth in Delhi, India. International Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 35(2), 97–104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Kah, L. L., Chen, P. C. Y., Lee, K. K., & Kaur, J. (2006). Premarital sexual intercourse among adolescents in Malaysia: A cross sectional Malaysian school survey. Singapore Medical Journal, 47(6), 476–481.Google Scholar
  26. Kalyanwala, S., Zavier, A. J. F., Jejeebhoy, S., & Kumar, R. (2010). Abortion experiences of unmarried young women in India: Evidence from a facility-based study in Bihar and Jharkhand. International Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 36(2), 62–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Kelly, C. A., Soler-Hampejsek, E., Mensch, B. S., & Hewett, P. C. (2013). Social desirability bias in sexual behaviour reporting: Evidence from an interview mode experiment in rural Malawi. International Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 39(1), 14–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Mensch, B. S., Clark, W. H., & Anh, D. N. (2003). Adolescents in Vietnam: Looking beyond reproductive health. Studies in Family Planning, 34(4), 249–262.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Nguyen, P. (2007). Relationships based on love and relationships based on needs’: Emerging trends in youth sex, culture in contemporary urban Vietnam. Modern Asian Studies, 41(2), 287–313.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Ogunsola, M. O. (2012). Abstinence from premarital sex: A precursor to quality relationship and marital stability in subsequent marriage in Nigerian society. International Journal of Psychological Studies, 4(2), 228–234.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Peiro, A. (2006). Happiness, satisfaction and socio economic conditions: Some international evidence. The Journal of Socio-Economics, 35(2), 348–365.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Rosero-Bixby, L. (1991). Premarital sex in Costa Rica: Incidence, trends and determinants. International Family Planning Perspectives, 17(1), 25–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Sakalh-Uğurlu, N., & Glick, P. (2003). Ambivalent sexism and attitudes toward women who engage in premarital sex in Turkey. The Journal of Sex Research, 40(3), 296–302.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Santhya, K. G., Acharya, R., Jejeebhoy, S. J., & Ram, U. (2011). Timing of first sex before marriage and its correlates: Evidence from India. Culture, Health and Sexuality, 13(3), 327–341.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Schensul, S. L., Mekki-Berrada, A., Nastasi, B. K., Singh, R., Burleson, J. A., & Bojko, M. (2006). Men’s extramarital sex, marital relationships and sexual risk in urban poor communities in India. Journal of Urban Health, 83(4), 614–624.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Shakerian, A., Nazari, A. M., Masoomi, M., & Ebrahimi, P. (2014). Investigating personality trait and premarital affair with opposite sex among university students of Sanandaj city. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 114, 339–345.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Shapurian, R., & Hojat, M. (1985). Sexual and premarital attitudes of Iranian college students. Psychological Reports, 57(1), 67–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Smith-Greenaway, E. (2016). Premarital childbearing in sub-Saharan Africa: Can investing in women’s education offset disadvantages for children? SSM-Population Health, 2, 164–174.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. South, S. J., Trent, K., & Bose, S. (2012). India’s missing women and men’s sexual risk behaviour. Population Research and Policy Review, 31(6), 777–795.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Subaiya, L. (2008). Premarital sex in India: Issues of class and gender. Economic and Political Weekly, 43(48), 54–59.Google Scholar
  41. Thornton, A. (1989). Changing attitudes toward family issues in the United States. Journal of Marriage and Family, 51(4), 873–893.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Tikoo, M. (1997). Sexual attitudes and behaviors of school students (grades 6–12) in India. The Journal of Sex Research, 34(1), 77–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Uecker, J. E. (2008). Religion, pledging, and the premarital sexual behaviour of married young adults. Journal of Marriage and Family, 70(3), 728–744.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Waite, L. J., & Gallagher, M. (2000). The case for marriage: Why married people are happier, healthier, and better off financially. New York: Doubleday.Google Scholar
  45. Weisfeld, G. E., Russell, R. J. H., Weisfeld, C. C., & Wells, P. A. (1992). Correlates of satisfaction in British marriage. Ethology and Sociobiology, 13(2), 125–145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Wright, P. J. (2015). Americans’ attitudes toward premarital sex and pornography consumption: A national panel analysis. Archives of Sexual Behaviour, 44(1), 89–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Zhou, X. (1989). Virginity and premarital sex in contemporary China. Feminist Studies, 15(2), 279–288.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsRabindra MahavidyalayaChampadanga, HooghlyIndia

Personalised recommendations