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Posted at 2:08 PM ET, 12/ 1/2010

Infidelity in Russia

By Ezra Klein

Julia Ioffe has a fascinating article on the prevalence and increasing acceptability of infidelity in Russia:

20 years ago an affair was considered a career-wrecking scandal. But by 1998, a study showed that Russian men and women led their peers in 24 other countries in their willingness to engage in and approve of extramarital affairs. Since then, these attitudes have taken hold more deeply after a prolonged consumer boom that encourages Russians to indulge their whims and desires. What does this culture of infidelity look like, and what are the costs?

There are fewer numbers in here than I'd like, but this sort of thing probably isn't amenable to survey data. What it basically shows, however, is the degree to which economic reality drives moral judgments. Russia has 10 percent fewer men between ages 15 and 64 than women, it's quite poor given its level of development, and men are far better off. That's a pretty good recipe for a society in which male sexual preferences will win out, and because they win out, eventually become tacitly, if not explicitly, accepted.

By Ezra Klein  | December 1, 2010; 2:08 PM ET
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Ezra . . . sigh, never mind!

Posted by: 54465446 | December 1, 2010 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Actually, when I think of country with high levels of infidelity, I think of European countries (particularly Mediterranean ones) that have quite high standards of living. I think the correlation is probably reverse to the American notion you stated.

Posted by: michaelh81 | December 1, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Supply and Demand. Makes one rethink the correlation between male-dominated societies and warlike tendencies. Provided men go to war because of a comparative advantage in strength, when fewer of them return they are suddenly in low supply, thus driving up the "price" of men.

Posted by: MGriebe | December 1, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

To nag a bit here, that's the worst misuse of a study that I've ever seen (referring to the Slate article). Not only does it not actually cite the study, but it doesn't identify the source of the study, the other 23 countries measured, or the percentage of Russians that approved of infidelity.

In other words, this is like the author quoting an anonymous source because the source didn't feel like bothering to spell out his full name -- incredibly lazy journalism.

Posted by: monkey_c | December 1, 2010 10:45 PM | Report abuse

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