Monday, May 24, 2010

Binge drinking leads to multiple sex partners

Hey college boys: Did you know that binge drinking increases your chance of having multiple sex partners?

This tip comes courtesy of Dr. Jeffrey DeSimone from the economics department of the University of Texas at Arlington, who analyzed data from a survey the CDC sent to college students in 1995. The study was published in the Journal of Wine Economics (but is apparently not viewable online, sorry.)

DeSimone set out to learn if binge drinking -- which he defines as 5 drinks in two hours or less -- leads to more sex. He seems to have wanted to be a moralistic nag. But he has provided a useful road map for 20-year-olds wondering if tequila shots are going to get them to the promised land.

Binge drinking apparently does not help the population as a whole get laid, though it does help certain groups, notably people working their way through school. Anybody working 10 hours or more per week while in college is more likely to have sex if they binge drink than if they don't.

Looking at the data, it seems to me that female students are more likely to have sex overall if they binge drink than if they don't. DeSimone did not draw this conclusion; it's a major point, and I'm sure he had his reasons. However, he does say that females are more likely to have multiple sex partners as their body weight rises.

Freshmen are less likely to have sex overall whether or not they binge drink; sorry guys. Wait 'til you're 20; that's when sex becomes more likely than not.

DeSimone tried to tease out whether binge drinking leads to "risky sex," which he defined by lack of condom use and multiple partners within 3 months.

Turns out that it does for many groups. The effect is strongest for non-Hispanic whites in 4-year schools. I like this data a lot. This study has the aroma of prissy social engineering: we've got to stop these kids from drinking and having unprotected sex with the whole dorm. Usually moralizers start throwing around "welfare mothers" as coded language to let us know it's also a race issue. But here we can see that it's the yuppie stereotype -- white, 4-year-college students, not living with their parents -- who are sleeping around.

And I say: Bully for them. It's their bodies, they can share as they like, though the condom use bit is a little troubling. Perhaps vodka makers can start including condoms as giveaways.

Speaking of which, this study should cause celebration in the offices of Brown-Forman and Diageo and all the other major booze purveyors. They can't exactly release a statement saying: "Brown-Forman is pleased to announce that Jack Daniel's, when used immoderately, has been proven to increase the number of sex partners for working white college students." But isn't that exactly what all liquor advertisements promise?

Unfortunately, the effect starts to drop off at age 24, which makes intuitive sense as that's when binge drinking goes from a novelty event with friends to an unattractive lifestyle choice.

But if you're 21 and in a 4-year-school, you might want to consider having another drink. And another. Thanks for the study, bro.

1 comment:

Jared Brandt said...

Time to tell my nephews to think long and hard before ordering another drink, or two, or three at the bar...