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Poll finds early sex a norm in big cities
Updated: 2005-07-06 08:47

Boys and girls between 14 and 20 in urban China have their first sexual experience at the average age of 17.4, nearly 9 years earlier than their grandparents when they were young, according to a survey published yesterday.

Love at a young age is not a rare phenomena in China nowadays. [China Daily/file]
The survey of 2,252 respondents in seven cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, Xi'an and Guangzhou, shows that people between 51 and 60 first had sex at an average age of 26, those between 21 and 30 first had sex at 21.9 on average.

The result of this massive face-to-face survey was no surprise to Chinese sociologists.

"The opening-up of Chinese society and early arrival of puberty have contributed to this change in sexual behavior," said Professor Zhou Xiaozheng, head of the Institute of Sociology of Renmin University in Beijing.

Sex used to be taboo in traditional Chinese society. But today, sex products are available to almost everyone in the cities, from Internet or on DVDs.

As the government defers the marriage age and promotes safe sex, teenagers have been growing up without guilt about their sexuality, Zhou said.

While scholars received the survey results with calm, some in the public were doubtful about their accuracy.

Tu Jun, 26, is a real estate dealer who knows many young couples hunting for houses to live together.

"Cohabitation is nothing to hide for young people; it is quite common among college students," Tu said. "But the average age of 17.4 is too low because most people don't (have sex) until they go to college."

The average age for all respondents, who were aged between 14 and 60, to have sex was 22.9. The younger the respondents, the earlier they claimed they first had sex.

The survey also revealed Chinese attitudes toward premarital sex. Nearly one in five respondents approved of it.

More youngsters approved of premarital sexual relationships, and more men than women said "there is nothing wrong with it."

The relaxation of views toward sex in China is likely to affect traditional Chinese family structures and society at large, predicted Zhou.

"It's hard to rule out sex as the main factor of the high divorce rate in Beijing, which hit 50 percent last year."

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