Finding Humor in Porn Statistics

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A little humor from the folks at the Journal of Economic Perspectives.  OK, they don’t mean it has humor.  Their article “Red Light States: Who Buys Online Adult Entertainment?” is a serious work looking at the various socioeconomic factors driving pornography consumption or as they say:

For economists, the adult entertainment industry offers several aspects of
interest. On the production side, for example, the adult entertainment industry has
repeatedly proven to be among the first to adopt new imaging technologies. For
example, Johnson (1996) concludes that adult videos spurred early purchases of
home video cassette recorders. More recently, as studios evaluated competing
high-definition DVD formats HD-DVD and Blu-ray, at least some studios chose
Blu-ray upon observing that adult studios favored that format (Mearian, 2006).
Looking back, adult entertainment was an early adopter of a wide variety of
image-related technologies—including ancient sculpture (Diver, 2005), the book
(Moulton, 2000), and the photograph (Loth, 1961).

Still, it’s not hard to find humor in the reams of data contained in the report.  The top state in Internet porn subscriptions per broadband user:  Utah.  Numbers two and three: Alaska and Mississippi.  Those are really red states consuming all that porn.  OK, Hawaii comes in at number four, but then comes Oklahoma, Arkansas, North Dakota and Louisiana.  See any pattern there?  Maybe those blue state folks are just better at finding free porn.  Still, you have to love this observation

Furthermore, I found no significant relationship between subscriptions to this adult entertainment service and presidential voting in 2004, based on poll data by congressional district. However, using individual-level data from a Hitwise sample of ten million anonymized U.S. Internet users, Tancer (2008), finds that adult escort sites are more popular in “blue” states that voted for Gore in 2004, while visitors from the “red” states that voted for Bush in 2004 are more likely to visit wife-swapping sites, adult webcams, and sites about voyeurism.

See Ms. Spitzer, it wasn’t Elliot’s fault!  He was a blue state governor!  Other fun facts:

  • Higher incomes have higher percentages of porn subscriptions
  • Younger populations have higher percentages of porn subscriptions (duh)
  • Areas with higher marriage and divorce rates have fewer subscriptions (?!)
  • College degrees mean more subscriptions, but grad degrees mean less.
  • The more urban the area, the more subscriptions (so how did Utah and Alaska get in there??)
  • States where people say they believe in statements like “I have old-fashioned values about family and marriage” have dramatically higher percentages of subscriptions per 1000 broadband users.  (We’re taking +3.6% here on a sample where the average is in the mid 2’s)

Before I get too carried away here, the researcher did find that states with straight marriage amendments were not different than those without, states with sodomy laws were likewise no different than those without and,

On the whole, these adult entertainment subscription patterns show a remarkable consistency: all but eleven states have between two and three subscribers to this service per thousand broadband households, and all but four have between 1.5 and 3.5. With interest in online adult entertainment relatively constant across regions, there’s little sign of a major divide.

Thanks to the folks at NewScientist.com for bringing this report to my attention and did I mention that Utah and Alaska were over 5%?

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Jo  •  Feb 28, 2009 @5:48 pm

    Glad you found that – combo of interesting and amusing.

  2. nimh  •  Mar 4, 2009 @8:55 am

    States where people say they believe in statements like “I have old-fashioned values about family and marriage” have dramatically higher percentages of subscriptions per 1000 broadband users.

    Heh. Sex, guilt and hypocrisy – always a potent combo.

  3. Ace  •  Mar 5, 2009 @3:30 pm

    Do you see the pattern here?

    Is most of those states, porn is illegal. You can’t mail it there, you can’t sell it there. Therefore, of course online consumption would be higher.

    Wow, people will believe anything.

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