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Premarital Sexual Mores in Taiwan and Hong Kong

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Two alternative explanations of the 'sexual revolution' are contrasted and explored by using two nation-wide surveys undertaken in 1986 and 1988 of high schools students in Taiwan and Hong Kong respectively. One argument suggests the revolution is mainly a result of changes among women; the other argument sees new sexual behaviours still reflect pre-existing values in which premarital sex occurs within a 'marital' context. To assess such changes in sexual attitudes and behaviours the most accessible subjects/group are people not in a marital situation. For this reason, high school students provide an appropriate sample for the study. The survey data show that in both countries (1) male students had more sexually permissive attitudes than female students; (2) this 'typical' gender difference on the attitude level was reflected at the behavior level among Taiwanese students, but it was not reflected in the behaviors among Hong Kong students; (3) the more permissive sexual attitudes among Chinese males were not accompanied by more sex knowledge; (4) Hong Kong students had conservative attitudes relative to their behaviors, whereas Taiwanese students had conservative behaviors ralative to their attitudes. The theoretical implication is that the first argument (of sexual revolution) appears to apply to Hong Kong while the other explanation applies with more force to Taiwan. Oher methodological and policy implications are also developed.

Affiliations: 1: Sociology Program, Department of Political Science, University of Melbourne, Australia; 2: Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto, Canada; 3: School of Public Health, National Taiwan University, Republic of China; 4: Department of Applied Social Studies, Hong Kong Polytechnic, Hong Kong


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