Sexual attitudes over time #3: Extramarital sex

While attitudes to premarital sex and homosexuality have become more liberal over time, by contrast attitudes to extramarital sex seem to have become slightly more conservative.

Over time the question has changed from one which is gender specific to one that is not, but with both asked in the 1993 National Social Science Survey it seems that it does not make much difference. Both questions pick up on the same attitude to adultery.

Continue reading “Sexual attitudes over time #3: Extramarital sex”

Sorry, folks.

You’ve probably noticed some slowness in the past 2 hours. That’s me, your loving Ozblogistan admin / tyrant, trying to debug a plugin. Apparently asking for debugging information is too much for PHP and MySQL to bear, so they threw an unedifying tantrum which choked the site.

Alan Gilbert, RIP

Professor Alan Gilbert, who was my boss for the last four of his eight years as Vice-Chancellor of Melbourne University, died yesterday in Manchester. He had recently completed a term as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Manchester.

I first met him in the late 1990s, during my time as then Education Minister David Kemp’s higher education adviser. He was very noticeable among the VCs who came through or approached our office. Most of them just wanted another cash hit to feed the sector’s great addiction to public money. Alan knew that game was up and that universities would have to do more to earn their own income.

He was an early and regular advocate of deregulating tuition charges for domestic students, but also knew that this was going to be politically difficult. So he turned to other ways of making money for the U of M – with the main strategies being international students, Melbourne University Private, and Universitas21’s commercial arm U21 Global.

The first of these was very successful; Melbourne had been a laggard in recruiting international students but this rapidly changed during the Gilbert era. But as Alan’s many critics repeatedly pointed out, the other two ventures were money losers. The problems of Melbourne University Private in particular generated much work for me in my first few years at the U of M. Continue reading “Alan Gilbert, RIP”

Is there a higher education ‘market failure’ in engineering?

An article in yesterday’s AFR education supplement (not online, sorry) reported mining industry representatives criticising Labor’s proposed demand-driven higher education system.

Chris Walton of APESMA said

Engineering is the pin-up to demonstrate that a demand-driven system will be a disaster for this country. … It’s the classic example of market failure and the consequences of that market failure for this country are very concerning.

In reality ‘market failure’ – or at least, other than a failure of markets to exist – is not likely to be a major issue here. In a paper I wrote for NCVER a couple of years ago I showed that university applications do respond to labour market shortages. Objective evidence of shortages of engineers emerged over 2003-04, and with a lag of a year demand for engineering courses grew from 2006 (from applications that would mostly have been made in 2005).

Figure: Engineering applications and offers

Source: DEEWR. Continue reading “Is there a higher education ‘market failure’ in engineering?”

Sexual attitudes over time #2: Same-sex relations

While attitudes to premarital sex have been fairly stable since the early 1990s, attitudes to homosexuality have changed a lot. In 1993 more than half of the respondents to that year’s National Social Science Survey – 56% – though that sex between adults of the same sex was ‘always wrong’ and only a quarter thought that it was ‘not wrong at all’.

By 2009 the proportion of adults thinking that same-gender sex was ‘always wrong’ had decreased to 37% and those believing that it was ‘not wrong at all’ had increased to 47%, with another 10% thinking that it was wrong only sometimes. Still, a very large minority retains significant reservations about the morality of homosexuality.

All surveys, with minor variations in the opening: What do you think about sexual relations between two adults of the same sex?
1984 NSSS, 1993 NSSS, 1999-2000 International Social Survey, 2009 AuSSA:
Continue reading “Sexual attitudes over time #2: Same-sex relations”

Migration program still has majority support

Commenter Jack Strocchi has alerted me to this Roy Morgan poll on immigration that was released last week. It shows that despite the recent political focus on immigration, public opinion seems largely unchanged from earlier in the year. These are also very similar numbers to those we have seen since 2001, and as Morgan shows at other times in our history.

Question: “Over the last year (2008/09) about 170,000 immigrants came to Australia. Do you think the number of people coming here to live permanently should be increased, or reduced, or remain about the same?” (except for the first two polls, appropriate migration total inserted).

With both major parties promising around 170,000 migrants, they are in line with majority opinion, though answers do seem very sensitive to the questions asked.

Should the Coalition re-introduce full-fee undergraduate places?

In a rare campaign departure from populism, Opposition education spokesman Christopher Pyne has pledged to re-introduce full-fee places for Australian undergraduates if elected.

”It is absurd that … students from overseas are able to access Australian universities, and pay full fees for doing so, but there’s no percentage of Australian students that are entitled to do the same thing,” Mr Pyne told The Age.

However as Macquarie University VC Steven Schwartz correctly points out in the same Age article, the impending abolition of enrolment caps for Australian undergraduates signficantly undermines the rationale for a separate class of full-fee places. The main justification for the Howard-era policy was that because the number of places was held down by the government (through a mix of not wanting to pay subsidies for more students and not wanting to significantly re-arrange the historical allocation of places between institutions and courses), allowing full-fee places once all the HECS places were taken slightly alleviated mismatches between supply and demand. Continue reading “Should the Coalition re-introduce full-fee undergraduate places?”

Sexual attitudes over time #1: Premarital sex

The Australian Survey of Social Attitudes 2009 has some questions on sexual attitudes, which lets us track some trends since the 1980s. Today, attitudes to premarital sex.

The figure below shows that when the National Social Science Survey 1986-87 was taken casual sex wasn’t viewed positively by most respondents, but when the couple were in love a small majority thought that it was ok. The 1993 NSSS and the 2009 AuSSA show that attitudes have become more liberal since the 1980s, though it is not clear whether respondents in 1993 and 2009 would have distinguished between casual and relationship sex if asked.

Continue reading “Sexual attitudes over time #1: Premarital sex”

Welfare quarantining for the middle class

The Education Tax Rebate – whether Labor’s version or the more expensive Coalition version announced today – is the march of welfare quarantining beyond the income-support reliant lower classes into the middle class. The eligible group of FTB A recipients includes all but about the top 25% of families.

Parents can get their welfare handout, but only so long as they spend it on a list of things approved by the state.

In practice, this rebate isn’t really going to be a major behaviour changer. Most parents will spend more than maximum rebatable amount anyway, making the rebate just a paperwork intensive form of FTB A for parents of school-age kids.

But it is a bad precedent for the state seeking to monitor more of family life. How long before nanny wants receipts for healthy food, or some other paternalist preoccupation of the day?