Television and the frequency of sex

Substitutes are indeed everywhere:

This paper examines the association between television ownership and coital frequency using data from nearly 4 million individuals in national household surveys in 80 countries from 5 continents. The results suggest that while television may not kill your sex life, it is associated with some sex life morbidity. Under our most conservative estimate, we find that television ownership is associated with approximately a 6% reduction in the likelihood of having had sex in the past week, consistent with a small degree of substitutability between television viewing and sexual activity. Household wealth and reproductive health knowledge do not appear to be driving this association.

That is from a new NBER paper by Adrienne Lucas and Nicholas Wilson.


I recall reading some porn magazine that referenced a movement in the USA to stop viewing porn since it kills your actual sex drive, and the porn magazine columnist actually agreed, with the usual caveats about not overdoing it. This might be the TV analog. But correlation is not causation and there's some self-selection too.

Bonus trivia: in the Philippines they have signs in public places: "Viewing porn is not allowed here", don't ask me why. And the US PROTECT act prohibits even virtual porn that suggests the cartoon character is a minor (it's been prosecuted, and a guy was convicted, for having a Manga comic book, I kid you not, though he got a light sentence).

The manga seller faced a minimum sentence of 20 years in jail and a 250,000 fine so pled guilty and served 6 months. That is a light sentence?

This is contrary to the entire purpose of banning child porn. Presumably the reason is ONLY because a child had to be exploited. Otherwise viewing porn is protected under the 1st amendment. So for a DA to even prosecute this case shows the hypocrisy and malicious intent of the law.

There is an even deeper level in which these laws are misguided.

The widespread distriburion of violent video games is associated with a decrease in crime.

The widespread distribution of pornography is associated with a sharp decline in rape.

So if there is, in fact, an inverse correlation between the nature of the media that we consume and the nature of the crimes that we commit, then anti-child porn laws are counterproductive.

Just imagine a hardened pedophile, whose sexual attraction to children is hard-wired into his brain, after he learns that even fictional, digitally created renditions of his sexual fantasy are illegal to view. Will he stop being attracted to children? Will his desires disappear altogether?

Well, its distasteful, but I am led by the logic that if we prescribe methodone for heroin addicts...

Well, not a heroin addict...but, on pain meds for 22 years, when they prescribed methadone to see if there was any decrease possible, while still controlling pain levels to a decently tolerable degree. Amazingly, less was used on a one to one basis, comfort level rose substantially...after 8 years (included in the 22) I was again in a very painful stage, so switched to a body implanted infusion pump with morphine...miss that methadone though.

The laws against child porn exist to prevent kids from being used as porn actors. But I agree that there shouldn't be laws against simulated (i.e cartoon, 3D animated) child porn.

One assumes the link is not correct, as TV has little to do with 'Are Health Care Services Shoppable? Evidence from the Consumption of Lower-Limb MRI Scans'

What a title! Reminds me that in the Union army hospitals, during the US Civil war, hog farming was very popular as an adjunct to the operating room. Think it through, solve for the equilibrium (no anesthesia)...


Knock off the carpetbagging, Cowan.

Wouldn't "TV owners" skew older than people who watch content on their phones or other devices? Did they control for that?

if they didn't control for that, they should be shot. Then lose tenure.

And if they're very lucky, it will happen in that order!

This has to be either a joke or one of the "best" examples of poor research. Almost all households own TVs in richer countries, so the number of confounding variables related to different cultures, economic systems, etc. would seem to doom this study at the outset.

Upon starting to read the abstract, I was wondering whether it had something to do with smart TVs that are watching the viewers - now that might have been interesting.

The sample comes only from low and middle-income countries. According to their descriptive statistics, 48% of their sample owns a television (and only 28% own a refrigerator).

That's why we don't have a TV in the bedroom. :)

After our third child in 3 years, my colleagues joked: "Don't you have a television?"

A good romance or romcom can actually be helpful, if it's over soon enough.

Outlander. It's basically a harlequin romance novel put to film.

That's the one where Sean Connery is the police officer on Jupiter's moon, Io. Amiright?

Ha, that's what I first thought. [Good film; High Noon in space...]

No. This is the one where a British housewife goes back in time and has a torrid affair with a strapping Scottish highlander. Who rescues her repeatedly, from the clutches of a lascivious British officer. There is much wearing and tearing of bodices involved.

the best part about being rich as fuck, is the not giving a fuck.

So it’s a married woman cheating on her husband and a fantasy world built around it to make it morally acceptable.

I guess some women do enjoy cuckold fantasies after all. And the cuckold fantasy show can be conducive to more relations. That’s certainly a depressing view of marriages in the 21st century.


Yeah. I am very concerned about the sex lives of imaginary people traveling in the past.

Oh please, stop acting like a prude. Everybody enjoys a good cuck story once in a while. Go ask your mother and then her mother and then her mother, if they are still around. Men think of other women so why is it wrong if women do the same?

>Everybody enjoys a good cuck story once in a while

I nominate this for today’s “comment that best exemplifies why no reason need be given to turn off MR comments.”

>Men think of other women so blah blah

There is this saying about two wrongs that I can’t recall just now...

Basically, Outlander = Female Hypergamy. It's a thing.

More importantly, letting your wife watch bodice ripping romance shows and allowing her to fantasize about banging a strapping scottish highlander may improve your sex life.


Watching softcore cuckold porn with your wife “may improve your sex life.” If that’s true then as the man you are basically human trash.

I’d recommend six months of TestC, a better job, good clothes, a sense of wit, preparing financially and then the resulting divorce.

Or literally be a living punchline.

It's not cuckold porn if you pretend you're the Scottish highlander. The husband is largely off screen, anyway, back in the 20th century. Afterwards, you can tell your wife to put on a corset, and then it's all just role-play. You can be the rapacious Brit if you want.

You left out that she understands the sadistic officer to be a direct ancestor of her husband and thus she spends considerable effort in trying to stop the Scotsman from killing him, even though the officer has sexually assaulted him. Since she wants her husband to still be there when she gets back. The books were notable when they came out over 25 years ago for their large number of male fans, I think there was a WSJ apiece on this. And many modern “woke” romance readers object to them strongly because the Scotsman thrashes her once. Oh and the author actually got Random House to let her title the fifth book “The Fiery Cross,” and yes it refers to burning crosses for political purposes south of 36°30’N

They are really quite good for anyone who doesn’t let their sexual inadequacy directly drive their literary tastes.

Oh yeah, the show is actually pretty kinky and works multiple angles in that respect, including gay male S&M. Although I didn't much care for that aspect.

Impressive - 6 commenters who clearly did not click on the provided link.

And we sure didn't fork over the five bucks

To be fair, those commenters are a bunch of incels so they know not the sex speak of.

Actual paper:
Authors are Adrienne Lucas, Nicholas Wilson.

People often have sex out of boredom. So is this really a loss? Revealed preference and everything.

the same as drinking a beer when you're bored. it tastes great anyway.

It's long been horniness, not boredom. Tho there is also the strong desire to please and pleasure the spouse, out of love. One advantage of having a few close together is that they can be really friends, and share a lot.

We waited another 6+ years to have a fourth (with a sad miscarriage between). We seldom see more than one show on a night together, altho while I'm blog commenting alone, my wife is often watching movies.

Usually after we watch a movie on TV, we talk about it. This helps bring us closer together.

Women seeing other lusty lads get lucky in love, and in bed, is not bad, as long they both know they're both being faithful.

Bangladesh has had a huge reduction in birthrate (a miracle!) in the last 40 years, already now under 3. I don't think it was the TV -- but the culture changing and the desire to be good parents to each child (which really is quite time-consuming). Altho this culture change might well be pushed faster by such shows on TV.

Maybe what's unstated in the abstract is that the alternative to actual sex is viewing sex on television (streaming combined with mirroring app).

We need a follow up study on how it affects the quality of sex? If TV is a good substitute for sex, I would suspect that the quality of the marginal sex was poor.

I did once ask an aunt why her generation in Ireland had so many children. She replied no TV. My uncle responded that the first kid took up all his spare time, how much could the others take?

the average American watches 4 hours of TV per day. The average sexual episode lasts 3 to 5 minutes.

I find it hard to see how these are substitutes.

Maybe it's the case where now we have the actual evidence but there's nothing new here. I think it was back in high school when I learned that in "the olden days" people had a boatload of kids because before electric lights there was nothing else to do but have sex.

No, that's really not the reason at all.

What, no boardgame evenings instead?


Need I say more? I'm surprised the effect isn't larger.

The Cucks on MR don't have sex with other people so they blame TV. I'm so glad I'm not an old white guy.

So it's acutal Netflix and actual chill.

Lol the one good comment.

Hazel has a interesting and sad point about revealed preferences, but this one is the thread winner.

Tv and chill indeed, or at least 6% of the variance in chillaxing can be explained by television. Or confounding variables.

From glancing at the paper, they did employ a number of control variables -- but did not seem to have decent instruments for doing a causal study. I would expect most of the causality to go the other direction: people who are more interested in sex have less reason to buy a TV and to watch it.

You think TV is bad, try having kids. You'll wish that you had opted for more TVs. Screw you Bryan Caplan.

6 % is nothing :). Just watch television together with your partner and after you still can have great fun. I recently published an article about how you can please your partner and how to get him or her aroused. If interested you can have a look at it by clicking on the following link:

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