Reciprocal Effects of Sex and Religion in Italy
Marcantonio Caltabiano, University of Padua
Gianpiero Dalla Zuanna, University of Padua
Alessandro Rosina, Università Cattolica, Milan
Christian people share ethical norms opposing extra-marital sex. Consequently, the association between religion and timing at first sex could be bi-directional: (1) when people relax their adhesion to Church, the statistical risk of having first sex should improve (religiosity effect on sex); (2) when young Christians have first sex, their connection with religion should diminish (religiosity adaptation after sex). When dealing with this topic, a connection between religion and sex has been usually found, but without distinguishing between the two effects. We study the bi-directional effect between first sex and discontinuing church attendance among a representative sample of university students of Italy (i.e., an overwhelming Catholic country) using simultaneous equations and taking into account unobserved heterogeneity. Results show that both effects work, contrasting the results of other authors for USA, where only religiosity effects on sex has been detected. In the paper some hypotheses for explaining this difference are discussed.