Study: Hawaii Loves Porn

A nationwide study of online porn consumption has been raising eyebrows, most pundits seizing on the strong correlation between conservative and religious states (a.k.a. “Red States”) and the number of porn subscriptions. But I was amused to discover that Hawaii is the number two consumer of porn, behind only Utah.

Seriously. Just read the actual study, published by Harvard Business School’s Benjamin Edelman in the Winter 2009 edition of the Journal of Economic Perspectives.  Page 9, Table 2 shows Hawaii solidly in second place in porn subscriptions per 1,000 residents and per home internet users, and in the top five when adjusted for broadband use and demographics.

Edelman notes that eight of the ten states that went to John McCain in the 2008 election are also the biggest porn consumers… and he describes Hawaii and Florida as the exceptions.  Of course, Florida only barely tipped in Barack Obama’s favor.  But Hawaii’s situation is more interesting.  Politically, Hawaii is very “blue,” and thanks to Obama’s island ties, he took the Aloha State in a landslide.  At first blush, it would seem that Hawaii is a significant outlier in Edelman’s study.

But people who live here, and especially those who are born and raised here, will tell you that there’s no mystery. While our politics may lean left, our culture largely leans right. I’m generally loathe to speak in stark, binary terms, Hawaii may look like a liberal paradise on the surface, but its foundation is very socially conservative.  It’s just that this fact only bubbles to the surface periodically, such as in the recent debate over civil unions (and the constitutional amendment banning gay marriage that residents overwhelmingly voted for in 1998, surprising even me).

“Subscriptions are slightly more prevalent in states that have enacted conservative legislation on sexuality,” notes Edelman. “Subscriptions are also more prevalent in states where surveys indicate conservative positions on religion, gender roles, and sexuality.” So in some ways, Hawaii and Utah may not be that different.

How does porn consumption correlate with urban density? Or marriage and divorce rates?  It’s an interesting study, and worth a read.

10 Responses

  1. Sheila says:

    I never would have guessed Hawaii first and Utah second. In fact, I wouldn’t have even guessed they’d be in the top half.

  2. Nicole says:

    Do you think it could have to do with the fact that there are a lot of military members on the island?

  3. Howard says:

    lots of military members… one per soldier in fact.

  4. Maybe the ranking is totally random, and really doesn’t have anything to do with politics or social beliefs. It’s all so confusing and “gray,” I’m conservative, therefore I’m republican (ha!) OR I’m liberal, so I’m a democrat.
    Who knows!

  5. Kalei says:

    Being from Hawaii and now living in Utah, I can honestly say that the Harvard study is probably pretty accurate! :) In fact, check out this article posted today: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090311/ap_on_re_us/states_of_happiness

    @Scrivener seems to think they are related!

  6. theHawaiian says:

    I know for a FACT that people in Hawaii are fascinated with porn :)

    I think it’s much more acceptable in Hawaii due to our mixed cultures which aren’t based on puritan religion like that of the continental US, which demonizes sexuality. Asian cultures and religions such as Buddhism tend to have a much more open-minded take on human sexuality, thus “freeing” ourselves to explore carnal delights.

    But that’s just my opinion… :)

  7. Rob says:

    Well, what ELSE are you supposed to do when you’re on an archipelago in the middle of the Pacific? Internet Porn FTW.

  8. M Anderson says:

    What’s wrong with porn?
    Guys aren’t the only one’s who like it…
    M.

  1. March 2, 2009

    […] tiny 50th state is a powerhouse in the consumption of pornography it seems. Hawaii ranks second in the viewing of online […]

  2. March 20, 2009

    […] have learned from this blog that Hawaii ranks number two in the US for consumption of porn, behind only […]

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