ERIC Number: EJ896767
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Oct
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 26
Sex, Arts and Verbal Abilities: Three Further Indicators of How American Life Is Not Improving
Robinson, John P.
Social Indicators Research, v99 n1 p1-12 Oct 2010
Despite clear evidence that Americans' economic standard of living has improved over the last half-century in terms of income, ownership of technology and housing among other indicators, there is scant evidence from non-economic quality-of-life (QOL) indicators of improved life quality to parallel these economic gains. The present article adds to this list in showing little if any progress in three QOL indicators (the first two about time and activity) that have received less or no attention in the social indicators literature, namely (1) frequency of the highly enjoyable activity of sex, (2) participation in various serious arts activities and (3) scores of verbal ability. The data on sexual activity and verbal ability come from the 1974-2008 General Social Surveys (GSS) from the University of Chicago, and for the arts from the 2008 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts (SPPA) conducted by the US Census Bureau for the National Endowment for the Arts since 1982. All three surveys interviewed nationally representative samples, with over 70% response rates and sample sizes of more than 15,000 adults. The GSS data on "sexual frequency" show no significant increase in estimated frequency of "sex" since 1989, despite its strong appeal and the availability of new societal conveniences. This held both before and after adjustment for the age, marital status and education in the population; contrary to expectation, working long hours was associated with "increased" sex both before and after adjustment for these other demographic predictors. The SPPA trend data on "arts participation" actually showed a decline in participation, especially after adjustment for its major predictor of years of education; again no decreased participation was found among those working long hours. While scores on "verbal ability" in the GSS have stayed rather steady since 1974, they have decreased after MCA adjustment for the increased college education in more recent years, as documented by Nie et al. ("2009"). Thus, contrary to expectations, increases in public education have not been accompanied by improvements on these three indicators.
Descriptors: Marital Status, Art Activities, Living Standards, Citizen Participation, Quality of Life, Questionnaires, Social Indicators, Verbal Ability, Sexuality, Public Education, Scores, Surveys, Census Figures, Age, Educational Attainment, Working Hours, Interviews, Economic Factors
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: General Social Survey