income and sexuality

How Income, Race and Upbringing Influence Sexuality

Where we come from, and what influenced us growing up has a huge impact on our day-to-day lives and success. People from affluent families often have access to better recourses and education, which sets them up for a more secure life, compared with people from “normal” families, and social mobility is easier in countries that are economically stable and rich.

Our education levels, relationships with peers and family, race, gender, security and so much more depend on our background and environment. But how about our sexuality? 

Factors that influence and shape our sexuality

How environment affects sexual behaviors

Some research suggests that the environment has a huge influence on youth sexual behavior, how early they start having sex, and how likely they are to engage in risky sexual behaviors. The environmental facts include things like neighborhood, media, and state and federal policy and systems. 

Youth, living in an unsafe community, or a high-poverty neighborhood are more likely to start having sex at an earlier age. Early exposure to sexually explicit media like pornography also had an influence on how early adolescents start having sex and they tend to have permissive attitudes towards sex. 

There is some evidence that adolescents who had access to sexual health education programs through their environments were more likely to wait before having sex for the first time. 

Why does it matter how early or late people start having sex? Well, the research found that the delayed initiation of sexual intercourse leads to better academic achievement, improved self-esteem and mental health, and higher-quality relationships with romantic partners later in life. 

How family background affects sexual behaviors 

Environmental factors are not the only thing that affects youth sexual behaviors, interpersonal factors also play a huge part. Interpersonal factors include things like parents, family background, peers, relationships, and connection with the community. 

Adolescents who are from families with higher incomes, whose parents have higher education backgrounds, and who lived with both of their biological parents at the age of 14 tend to start having sex later. Youth whose parents were teens at the time of birth, and whose parents smoke tend to initiate sex earlier.

Also, the secure emotional bonds with parents play a crucial part in adolescent’s sexual behaviors. Those who grew up connected to their parents, and who were able to communicate about sexuality with their parents were less likely to initiate sex earlier.

Of course, relationship with parents isn’t the only factor. Having positive peer role models, and having close and positive relationships with teachers had an influence on delayed sexual activity and less risky sexual behaviors in youth.

More money, more sex toys?  

It might be obvious that richer people buy more toys. Of course, how could they not? After all, they have more money and they have more disposable income they can spend on sex toys. 

People who live in states and cities with higher GDP tend to be more interested in purchasing sex toys. They are also more likely to be higher earners, which also means that they buy more sex toys. However, there is another factor, besides income to consider here. 

Bigger cities like New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco also have communities of people who not only have higher incomes but also are more likely to be highly educated simply due to the fact that bigger cities have more work opportunities. 

People with higher education levels might have a more positive and open view of sexuality, which might influence their interest in investing in sexual health as a form of self-care. A recent systematic review found that education can improve women’s educability, knowledge, and attitudes toward sexual issues, which can increase their sexual satisfaction. 

And how about race?

White, non-Hispanic people are 22% more likely to own a sex toy compared to Black, non-Hispanic people. Less than 4% of home sex toy party attendees are Black. These numbers are no surprise because up until fairly recently, the sex toy industry was ignoring the non-white population of buyers. 

But it’s not only the sex toy industry’s problem. Non-white people owning fewer sex toys than white people can be related to all the factors we already discussed earlier. If we look at the latest US Census Bureau data, Hispanic and Black people have a significantly lower median household income compared to White, non-Hispanic and Asian people. 

Lower income means less disposable income for things that are not a necessity, like sex toys. Also, growing up in lower-income households and unsafe neighborhoods might also mean that more Black and Hispanic people than White people were able to develop a healthy relationship with sex. 

If we look at the data on education levels of American people based on ethnicity, we can see that only 25.2% of Black, and 18.3% of Hispanic people have a college education or higher, compared to 35.2% of White people. 

Lower education levels might indicate a lack of proper sex education, which also influences how people engage in sex and their relationship with their sexuality. If people are ridden with shape and don’t fully understand their bodies, they will be less likely to invest in their pleasure.