How does traditional confucian culture influence adolescents' sexual behavior in three Asian Cities?

Ersheng Gao, Xiayun Zuo, Li Wang, Chaohua Lou, Yan Cheng, Laurie S. Zabin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


Purpose: To investigate whether and how the presence of Confucian cultural norms influences the sexual behaviors of adolescents and young adults in three Asian cities experiencing different levels of economic development. Methods: Data for this article were drawn from the international cross-sectional survey on sexual and reproductive health of adolescents and young adults aged 1524 years in three Asian cities (Hanoi, Shanghai, and Taipei), conducted in 2006. The original sample consisted of a representative group of 17,016 adolescents; while in this study, 16,554 never-married adolescents were included in the analysis. Both face-to-face interview and computer-assisted self-interview approaches were adopted in the survey. Exposure to family concepts, self-cultivation values, gender role concepts, and sexual values were the main measures of traditional Confucian cultural influence. Sexual and intimate behaviors were the main outcome measures, and multi-Cox regression models were used to assess the association between traditional cultural concepts and values and sexual behavior after adjusting for potentially confounding factors. Data were analyzed with SAS software 9.1. Results: The traditional Confucian cultural norms were not weakening evenly, with more entrenchment in Hanoi than in Shanghai and Taipei. Prevalence of sexual coitus among adolescent and young adults was lowest in Hanoi and highest in Taipei, while similar profiles of other intimate behaviors were displayed in the three cities. Associations between respondents' sexual behavior and their cultural concepts and values differed by city. In Hanoi, for all four cultural measures, respondents with more traditional views were less likely to engage in sexual activity. This was also true in Shanghai and Taipei with respect to traditional sexual values and self-cultivation values. However, there was an inverse relationship between sexual behavior and traditional family concepts and gender roles in Shanghai and Taipei; those with more traditional values were more likely to have premarital sexual intercourse, except with regard to family values among female youth in Taipei. Conclusions: The findings suggest that different aspects of Confucian values eroding unevenly in different Asian cities may have distinct association with adolescent or young adults' sexual behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S12-S17
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number3 SUPPL.
StatePublished - Mar 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescents
  • Asian city
  • Confucian culture
  • Multicenter study
  • Premarital sex behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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