But devotion to a single mate might not have a bright future relative to more expansive sexual relationships if women who like to test the water by jumping in are outproducing those who prefer only dipping their toes. The following table shows the average number of children women have birthed by the number of male sexual partners they have had since the age of 18*. Like men, women who have had only one partner are the most fecund:
As the number of partners increases, the amount of procreation decreases. Taking the average number of chidren for each group of women (those who've had one partner, those who've had two partners, etc) and comparing it with the number of partners each group has had yields an inverse correlation of .79, (p=0), even stronger than the relationship of the two variables for men, which stands at .57 (p=.02).
A graphical representation of the data follow:
Green-on-up indicates replenishment or better. Seven in ten women who have been committed to a single man are sustaining themselves. Among women who have had been with seven or more guys, replenishment isn't even quite the norm, with fewer than half having at least two children. While only one of six monogamous women are barren, one in three women who've had at least seven partners are.
How does race play into this? The following tables show the average number of children had by women and by race, by the number of male sexual partners they have had since the age of 18. Ranges are employed where sample sizes for individual partner counts are deemed too small to stand alone:
The pattern is strong among whites and appears to be so among Asians as well, although the Asian sample is prohibitively small to attach much certainty to it. There is a counterpoint in the data among black women, as those who report having five partners have the largest brood, although the advantage over the monogamous is slight. Similarly among Hispanics, those in the 3-5 range are the most fecund. Across all groups, the promiscuous do not tend to turn their love making into baby making.
Tangentially, the inspiration for originally looking at the question of how the number of children and number of partners a person has interact has long since gotten back together with the girl who broke up with him. On graduation night, he was relieved of the fear he might die a virgin. She wants kids in four years, and he wants to be with her forever. If all goes as planned, it couldn't happen to a better young man.
GSS variables used: NUMMEN, CHILDS, SEX(2), RACECEN1(1)(2)(4-10), HISPANIC(2-99)
* The GSS cuts off at eight children ("eight or more"). I treated men in this category as though they'd had exactly eight kids.