"Red" States Buy More Online Porn

In a recent report from The Journal of Economic Perspectives, Ben Edelman released demographic information about who is buying online adult entertainment. From a top-10 seller of adult entertainment, he obtained a list of the zip codes associated with all credit card subscriptions for approximately two years, 2006–2008. What did he find?

The states with the most subscriptions (per thousand home broadband users, relative to subscription rates predicted, based on demographics) are:

  • Utah
  • Florida
  • Alaska
  • Mississippi
  • Hawaii
  • West Virginia
  • Arkansas
  • Oklahoma
  • North Dakota
  • Maine

There were higher percentages of subscriptions to porn sites in zip codes that . . .

  • Are more urban than rural
  • Have experienced an increase in higher than average household income
  • Have a greater density of young people (age 15-24)
  • Have a higher proportion of people with undergraduate degrees
  • Have higher measures of social capital (i.e. more people who donate blood, engage in volunteer activities, or participate in community projects)
  • Have enacted conservative legislation on sexuality (such as “defense of marriage” amendments) or have conservative positions on religion, gender roles, and sexuality

There were lower percentages of subscriptions to porn sites in zip codes that . . .

  • Have experienced an increase in marriage rates and divorce rates
  • Have a higher percentage of graduate degrees
  • Have experienced a higher percentage increase of elderly people (65+)

There was no significant statistical increase or decrease in subscriptions to porn sites based on . . .

  • Voting for the 2004 presidential elections
  • Regions where more people report regularly attending religious services (however, in such regions, a statistically significant smaller proportion of subscriptions are initiated on Sunday, compared with other regions)

This report focuses only on paid subscriptions to pornography and cybersex services, and not on consumption of free adult material online.