Changing Sexual Regulations in the U.S. from 1990 to 2010: Spatial Panel Data Analysis

Feler Bose, Jeffry A Jacob


Understanding legal regulation on sexual practices is a field in its infancy. In this paper we analyze the factors driving these sexual regulations using a novel dataset for the U.S. for the years 1990 to 2010. We first introduce the index of sexual regulation (ISR) and then using a spatial lag fixed effects estimator that accounts for spillover effects from neighboring states, we find that citizen’s ideology, population density, household income and median age are associated with a weaker sexual regulation while government ideology has a slight positive association with the overall sexual regulation. We also examine two dimensions of sexual practice regulation looking at the index of marriage practice regulation (IMPR) and sex crime regulation (ISCR). In the case of IMPR, our findings indicate that a more liberal government ideology, a higher share of population with the college degree and a higher median age are associated with a more liberal index of marriage practice regulation.


Index of Sexual Regulation, Spatial Panel Data Analysis, Index of Marriage Practice Regulation, Citizen Ideology, Index of Sex Crime Regulation

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