Virginity pledges help delay sex

Twelve- to 17-year-olds who take a virginity pledge are less likely to have sex over the next three years than non-pledgers with similar characteristics, concludes a RAND study.

Forty-two percent of those who did not make virginity pledges but were otherwise similar to those who did started sexual intercourse within three years, while just 34 percent of those who made virginity pledges reported having sexual intercourse within the same period.

Virginity pledgers were not more likely to try oral sex or less likely to use condoms if they did have sex.

RAND researchers say the pledges have an effect only if they’re taken freely.

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  1. “RAND researchers say the pledges have an effect only if they’re taken freely.”
    (Sarcasm on)Oh, darn. I guess that makes the ones I bullied my kids into signing aren’t going to work?

  2. I wonder that since they’re only effective if taken freely they’re also taken freely by kids predisposed to hold off sex anyway.

    I never took a virginity pledge as a teenager but I did become a comic book and horror movie geek. That worked quite well.

  3. Cardinal Fang says:

    Correlation doesn’t imply causation.

    Maybe teens delay sex because of virginity pledges, but surely a more probable explanation is that teens who weren’t going to have sex take virginity pledges, and teens who were going to have sex don’t.

  4. Robert Wright says:

    There’s only an 8 percent difference?

    And that’s supposed to mean something?

  5. Nels Nelson says:

    Why is it anyone’s business whether 18 to 20 year-olds are having sex? When did sex between adults become bad?

  6. Elizabeth says:


    It’s bad because this is an age cohort that instead of marrying, like they did in the old days, are now having children out of wedlock. The outcomes for kids produced out of wedlock for this age group are not really any better than for the kids of younger teens.

  7. The term “selection bias” comes to mind.