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What are the true economic costs of the sexual revolution? The greatest costs are those hardest to measure. If I am dying of AIDS, what is my life worth to me? I can only live once. My whole existence is being destroyed. What sum can possibly be an adequate compensation?

While financial measures are a poor reflection of human suffering it is still important to calculate the cost of the sexual revolution in cash terms. Let us start with Britain and then compare with America and Australia as two other examples.

Politicians and civil servants love fighting over figures. I am interested only in broad headlines. Many of these things are hard to quantify except in general terms so all figures have been rounded, usually downwards since we are looking to find a minimum cost figure.

Health costs

The obvious place to start is with health of which a significant element is AIDS. We have seen that the British AIDS problem is of far less significance than in most European countries, America, the African continent or South East Asia.

AIDS budget easy to measure

The AIDS cost is fairly easy to measure in Britain because the government has had a special AIDS budget. If we use a figure for care and prevention of around £211 million we will not be too far wrong. To this we can add an estimate of productive years of life lost. Let us say that if one and a half thousand die of AIDS in the UK this year, the average number of working years lost per death will be around 30, (assuming an average age at death of 35). The total number of productive years of life lost because of AIDS will then be at least 45,000 a year.

Loss of productive life

Average earnings are £16,000 a year, and Actuary tables for loss of earnings of someone dying aged thirty five, assuming inflation and retirement at sixty five, calculate £360,000 per death. This is almost certainly a gross underestimate for two reasons. Firstly, many with AIDS in the UK are well educated, rapidly rising professionals and others with higher than average earning power. Secondly, because the age of death is young, the vast majority would have otherwise expected their earnings to increase with seniority over the next thirty years.

We can see that the loss of future income/earnings for those who die of AIDS in a given year could exceed £500 million over the next thirty years.

You may say that in a nation of high unemployment, the economic loss of - say - an engineer, is in fact an economic gain because one less engineer will be drawing unemployment benefit or other social support.

Although that is true in the short term, in the longer term the loss of skills, loss of labour force, loss of consumers, is far more significant.

More to sex disease than AIDS

To the cost of AIDS we need to add other sex diseases. Let us say that it costs roughly £30 for each consultation in a sex disease clinic, including diagnostic tests required during almost every consultation, and treatment costs. This will cover doctor and nurse time, administration and management, heat and light as well as maintenance and a contribution to capital. There are around 580,000 such consultations a year. The total cost of out-patient treatment could be over £19 million a year.

Hospital care

What about in-patient care? This is unusual - advanced syphilis for example is now very rare. However, if we include pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) we find a large number. The Royal College of Gynaecologists has around 1,300 members. However some are retired. Let us say at least 900 are in practice. One gynaecologist estimates that each will have an average of fifteen beds. Of these 13,500 women in hospital at any time, around one in twenty will be there because of PID, 675 women at a cost of £1,300 each week, or say £45 million a year.

Cervical cancer - prevention

Then there is the cost of cervical cancer - including national screening programmes. Screening aims to check all women of reproductive age at intervals. Let us say that the costs of screening the average woman once including doctor or nurse time, recall time and follow up is £15 per test, and a further £15 for laboratory cost. Around half the UK population of 58 million are female.

Roughly 18 million are women between the ages of 20 and 64 needing regular screening, of which ideally we would like to screen at least 3.5 million a year - once every five years each, as the British government says it aims to. That gives us a bill for screening of around £100 million a year. In practice screening is incomplete but this would be the cost of screening 100% of women.

Cervical cancer - treatment

Then there is the cost of treating of cervical cancer, deaths and years of productive life lost. The UK death toll from cervical cancer per year is around 1,500. Ignoring completely the costs of treating nine others who are cured for each one who dies, what are the direct care costs of those that die?

Let us assume a total of six weeks per person of in-patient care, from diagnosis to death, including biopsies, surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and terminal care. The cost per person will then be at least £7,000, to which we should add an element for outpatient care, family doctor time, community care at home, prescriptions of medication at home and other things. The cost of all that could be £2,000 each - probably more, particularly if someone is ill for a long period at home.

The total cost per case then works out at around £9,000 - far less than, say, someone with AIDS for which the total bill for care can be as high as £25,000 to £40,000, partly because of very expensive drugs needed to help fight HIV and other infections. A total care cost of £9,000 multiplied by 1,500 deaths a year gives us a figure of £13 million.

Pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility

Let us turn now to the other costs of chronic Pelvic Inflammatory disease - not the costs of in patient treatment or medication, but the rapidly growing costs of infertility treatments. Let us use a rough figure of a half of all infertility treatments in women being needed because of sexually transmitted infections.

Let us use a rough figure of 5,000 per year for the total number of people receiving some form of assistance using in-vitro fertilisation (IVF), including all the counselling and tests leading up to it. The cost of a completed cycle of treatment varies but can be as high as £2,500 in a London clinic. Women have an average of three courses of treatment. Let us say the average treatment cost per cycle is £2,000.

Serono Laboratories, the market leader in infertility drugs says that 40,000 cycles of treatment are carried out per year, which would give us a total IVF spend of around £80 million which should be the total IVF costs of the two hundred IVF centres and associated research laboratories across the nation. The size of this industry is increasing at 20% every year. If we say at least half of these treatments are needed as a direct result of previous sex disease damage, that will give us £40 million as another cost of the sexual revolution.

Other health costs

There are a number of other health costs to be considered. I am not including here increases in community care costs, many of which are social services costs rather than health. We will consider those later.

One family doctor with ten year's experience of general practice in South London reckons that 20% of his work during that time was taken up "directly or indirectly with the short, medium or longer term effects of extra-marital sex". He was including amongst many things his element of support in AIDS, cervical cancer, infertility and other problems we have already costed in specialist time only.

He was also including advice to teenagers on contraceptives and pregnancy, and also advice for those seeking terminations including pre- and post-termination support. He was also reckoned a significant element of the huge amount of time spent on people with psychosomatic complaints was related to stress or guilt following affairs or other extra-marital relationships.

There are around 30,000 family doctors in the country, with an income plus add-ons of around £45,000 a year, not including all the practice costs of around £35,000 for ancillary staff, buildings and medication. Just a fifth of that salary bill would be £600 million. Even if we say the estimate is high and settle for just a quarter of it, or 5% of total workload, that will still add £150 million of family doctor salary costs caused by the sexual revolution.

We ought also to add an element for terminations. There were 182,000 abortions in Britain in 1992, of which 142,000 were in single women. The cost of an abortion in a non-NHS clinic is around £200. Let us take an average figure of £150 since many take place in the NHS and the costs are slightly lower. That will give us an abortion bill of around £20 million a year. While some of this is due to contraceptive failure, some of it is due to not using contraceptives in a short term relationship.

Unplanned conceptions in marriage are far more likely to result in a birth, which is why the abortion rate in married people is far less. Many who have abortions are young. One in four of the 142,000 in single people was for women less than twenty years old.

The additional health costs then add up to £170 million.

The health costs so far stack up as follows:-


Millions of pounds

Aids Care and prevention 210

Years of prod. life lost. 500


Other sex diseases - clinics 17

in patient 45


*Cervical cancer - screening 100

care - inpatient/ community 13


*Infertility-IVF 40

Other Health costs 170




* proportion attributable to sexually transmitted disease or factors. Much of this is private treatment.

There are other health costs which we will see later, for example the effect of divorce on family doctor consultations and the increased costs of community care. The health costs of the sexual revolution are therefore considerable even in a low HIV incidence nation like ours, probably over £1 billion a year, or almost 3% of all health spending.

If the money were diverted elsewhere it would pay for around one and a half thousand primary schools annually.

We're talking a lot of money. Sex is not only unhealthy in many situations, but putting right the sickness is very expensive - even where the person's life can be saved.

Divorce costs

Let us turn from health to the economic effects of household disruption: divorce cost calculations are bound to be a very incomplete catalogue of the sheer scale of relationship breakdown because as we have seen, so many relationships are not formalised by marriage in the first place.

Therefore any calculations based on marriage figures and divorce will underestimate the true total cost. However, it is also true that where marriage has taken place, there are extra legal costs to undo the agreement.

Let us first look at the cost of divorce alone, and then we can see much to add on for non-marriage partnerships that break up, or for single adults who have children.

Legal bills

Firstly there are legal costs: solicitors, barristers and court time. Some proceedings go on and on, especially if custody over children is contested or both parties keep returning to court over access disputes, threatening behaviour or other issues related to property.

The average legal bill for a divorce is £1,650. In practice most divorce disputes are settled by agreement between solicitors and barristers who negotiate out of court. Most costs are legal aided because so many getting divorced are already on very low incomes and wealthier people try to avoid court costs. £180 million of the £1 billion spent on legal aid each year is on divorce.

Mediation as an alternative costs only £557 on average, according to a pilot scheme by National Family Conciliation. Eight out of ten reach agreement on at least some issues, and four out of ten reach a complete settlement. Legal aid work is poorly paid on a fixed cost per case: junior staff do most of it, with up to 200 cases each. Therefore there are often long delays. One partner may also stall things to delay or get agreement to reduced payments. Mediation can help speed things up.

Second homes are dear

What about rehousing costs? Most separations result in new households, at least until new relationships form, when two households may be rolled into one and the process reversed.

However, even if reversal occurs, there are some unavoidable costs. Moving is expensive, even for one partner into a rented flat not too far away. The flat may not be fully furnished and if it is, it is unlikely to feel like a real home for long. People usually want their own furniture, cooker, television, curtains and other things. But they all cost money.

Moving, relocation and other costs are likely to be at least £1,000, but by the time a complete new household is set up the bill could be twice that. If the flat is privately rented there may be an arrangement fee which could be equivalent to two weeks rent. Telephone installation, the list continues.

Maintenance costs

Finally there are all the ongoing costs of running a second home. If a couple wished to rent or buy an extra holiday flat, to have it available all the year round, providing heat in the winter, what would they need to put aside? The answer is a small fortune which is why so few people own or rent second homes, yet that is precisely what happens at separation, unless a partner goes to live with parents or friends.

So let us quantify these costs.

Firstly, there is rent. Even if the people are on income support, or are in council properties paying little or no rent, someone is paying the cost somewhere. The land was bought, capital is tied up, homes were built and need to be maintained.

Therefore it is reasonable to take a commercial rent as a real measure of cost, since it is stacked in such a way as to cover both true running costs and capital servicing.

However, we need to add other costs such as electricity, gas and water, telephone rental, extra television licence, extra items to maintain and replace. Food is, as we have seen, far more expensive for smaller households so food bills across both will increase.

So then, how do we estimate the average total annual cost of this new home, extra food costs and other expenses? It seems to me that it would be not unreasonable to put a minimum figure of £250 per month or £3,000 a year - a figure depending greatly as the area and property type.

Counselling support and illness

Then there are the costs of counselling and advice to partners - and children too - over the entire period, recognising the roots of divorce often come years before. Much of this is likely to be provided by family doctors and their staff.

Health can break down. A cold or flu is more likely to knock someone flat when they are emotionally exhausted. We are whole people. The family doctor may be presented with a myriad of complaints from partners or children - ranging from insomnia, to anxiety, stress, ulcers, skin complaints, migraines, or bed wetting in children, asthma, or whatever?

A significant proportion of total workload of a family doctor can be supporting families where divorce is looming or has happened.I am told by those in general practice that a divorcing couple is likely to generate at least eight extra consultations of one kind or another for various family members, over a year or two around the time of separation. This would give a cost of over £300 at a calculation of £40 per consultation or home visit.

I have included this figure in the health costs we saw earlier, but other counselling costs could come to £150 per divorce on average.

Benefit costs

Because many of these households are poor, a large element of the costs above is carried by the state. This is to cover some direct costs of divorce such as enabling a single parent family to survive. There are additional benefits which single parents receive, for which two-parent families do not qualify. For those already receiving benefits there is a lone-parent premium which is an extra £5.10 a week.

Therefore there is immediately a £260 annual present from the government, tax free, for any couple on benefits who decide to separate, repeating every year. Couples have been known to officially separate but continue to co-habit, running two council homes, in order to get more money. The second home can then be sublet to friends.

In 1993 the total cost of income support and family credit for 1.3 million single parent families was £3.4 billion, expected to rise to almost £5 billion by 2000. One reason this is so high is that Britain has one of the lowest rates of single mothers in work, compared to other European countries. Increasing family credit to help pay for child care would help but would cost £100 million to 200 million.

Job costs

Then there are health costs which employers pay, because of lower productivity. Absenteeism is common at times of high stress. Let us say that the total time off for all reasons including moving out, court hearings, solicitors briefings and illness is no more than a week.

In addition there is a loss of concentration. "His mind isn't really on the job. You can tell. It's like all the sparkle has died inside him". or "she used to be on the phones all day long. Last week she has hardly managed to pick up the phone once".

Let us say output is 40% reduced for an average of a month - or 20% reduced for eight weeks. Many employers might put it a lot higher, and in my own experience of work colleagues, so would I. It is often a devastating time, especially if adultery is involved.

Let us put the total cost of time lost per divorce at around £1,000, for both partners. In many situations two jobs are affected.

It all mounts up

It becomes abundantly obvious that this is all getting very expensive - it may be affordable for the wealthy but bankrupting for others. In fact, it is so expensive that some have suggested that economic factors are still a tie holding many relationships together.

How does the total cost of a divorce begin to stack up?


Legal costs 1,650

Moving/relocation/setting up second home 2,000


extra doctor attendance 150

Absenteeism/lowered output 1,000

Additional household cost per year 3,000



Some of these costs arise only once while others continue for years. Five year costs could be £20,000. The first year cost could be around £8,000 dropping thereafter to £3,000 per year. The cost in the first five years alone would therefore be around £20,000 per divorce, assuming partners remain single and live on their own for five years after separation.

Obviously a new relationship brings cost savings from combining households. Some do find new relationships quite quickly, while others stay single for many years. If the average time for both partners to find new partners is five years then the figure of £20,000 remains correct. There were more than 170,000 divorces in 1991. So the total cost to the community of marital breakdown is probably around £3.4 billion. Therefore we conclude that divorce is an extremely expensive business, mainly because economies of scale are lost.

Living together and separating also costs money

So then, the sexual revolution costs Britain £1 billion in health costs and years of productive life lost each year, and a further £3.4 billion of divorce/separation costs. Surely that is it? Unfortunately not. We have totally ignored the costs of the rapidly growing number of long term cohabitees which are also breaking up.

Let us say that for every £10 of divorce costs, there are at least £5 of costs from non-marriage break-ups of long term relationships. If so, we should add a further £1.7 billion to our figures, making a total so far of £5 billion new relationship break down costs each year plus the health costs of £1 billion, making a total of £6 billion.

More than sex illness and separation

However, the costs do not stop there:. There are broader society impacts, and support is expensive. Social workers, health visitors, family therapists, child psychiatrists, special needs child teachers, and extra community care costs because so many ill at home are on their own.

Social worker time

Let us look first at social work support for families breaking up. As a doctor time and time again the people I have been involved in supporting have also needed help, support and professional advice from social workers. While social workers function cross a very wide spectrum, they have many roles at a time of relationship breakdown or divorce.

Here are a few: advice on accessing other advice and help; assessment of family situation; child protection; at risk supervision; representation in court; housing and benefit advice; counselling of estranged partners; informal marriage guidance; post-divorce "bereavement" support; advice and help in furnishing a new home; specialist support for disturbed children; informal family therapy.

I could list more. Roles may vary according to training, area and availability but social worker time costs money.

There are 9,000 members of the British Association of Social Workers, and a great many more social workers who are not members. Let us say that 10% of members' time is spent supporting those experiencing mental distress or cohabitation breakdown.

What is the cost of a social worker? It all depends. Add together salary, national insurance, pension, travel, telephone, office, secretarial, heat, light, office rent, stationary and management together with caseload supervision.

You will get a figure far in excess of £24,000 a year, probably nearer £30,000 depending on age, experience and degree of administrative support. Let us take the lower figure, multiplied by 900 or £22 million.

Children in care

Part of a social worker's role is supporting children in care, 66,000 in 1992. Six out of ten are fostered at an average cost of £102 per week, £5,304 per year with a total bill of £200 million. The remainder are in children's homes, costing between £536 and £943 depending on the type of unit. If we take a rough cost of £30,000 each for 26,400 children the bill is £792 million giving a total "in-care" cost of around £1 billion a year.

The great majority of children are in care because parenting arrangements have broken down. Let us say that least 50% of this is because of marital distress, partner chaos and related things. That will add £500 million to the sex revolution bill.

Health visitors and family therapists

Then we need to do the same exercise for health visitors, of which there are 15,000 according to the Health Visitor's Association, the equivalent of 12,500 full-time posts. This does not include a further 3,500 school nurses.

Let us leave school nurses out of it, and include a twentieth of health visitor time taken up with supporting families through separation, divorce and related problems. That is the equivalent of 625 posts. Salaries average £17,500 before adding on pensions, national insurance and the administrative overheads to a total of around £25,000. The total health visitor bill then is £16 million.

Then we need to include family therapists: specially trained counsellors helping families to "re-order" themselves. Such therapists are often called in after separation has occurred, with one parent absent, possibly including a new step parent, to try and help a family make sense of their past and find an appropriate way to continue life together. Let us say fifty multiplied by £20,000 - again the true figures are likely to be higher. Another £1 million.

Then there are child or teenage psychiatrists. There are 850 of them according to the Royal College. Let us say that the equivalent of 10% of their time is taken up with problems linked directly or indirectly to parental conflicts and separation, step-parenting and other things. That will give us 85 employed more or less full-time helping children adjust to changes in their parents situation. Psychiatrists attract a higher end of earnings to which must be added administration and hospital support. Let us say £50,000 minimum a year. That will add £4.2 million to the big bill. Nothing has been included here for in-patient care which as we have seen is increasingly common.

Children with special needs

Then there are the costs of educating special needs and "statemented" children. While many are in need of special help to cope with education because of learning difficulties such as severe dyslexia, others need help because of what has happened or is happening at home.

I used to work as a volunteer in a special school. The staffing ratio has to be very high. The alternative is to place the children in ordinary schools which can still be expensive. Some are so disturbed and disruptive to other children that some education authorities provide an extra full-time teacher for each statemented children. Cost of such integration then works out at up to £20,000 a year per child, including assessments, case conferences, family support, head teacher time and general staff training. The cost may be somewhat less in a small specialist school. It depends.

How many statemented children are there in the UK, and how many are statemented as a result of divorce, or relationship distress?

There are over half a million children in each school year. Let us say that one child in 2,000 between the ages of six and twelve has special needs to a large extent because of the traumas of separation, divorce, wars over custody and other things. Of those three million children in school, 1,500 extra children will be statemented. Let us say the cost is only £5,000 per child. That will add £9 million to the indirect bill.

Care in the community

Now let us turn to the care of the sick and frail in the community. For a number of years I have worked with teams helping those ill and dying at home. I can tell you that most people in my experience would prefer to die at home than in some anonymous hospital bed.

I can also tell you that however good the community care, most of those who live on their own will die in hospital. The reason is simple: in the last days and hours of life people often need round the clock attention. They do not need much attention in a given hour, but when they need it, they cannot wait.

An obvious example is passing water. If someone cannot get out of bed without assistance, the lack of a healthy adult in the house will result in either wetting the bed or falling across the floor or down the stairs.

Someone in the house is essential. Now to put a nurse or care assistant in day and night involves several doing long shifts and is very expensive. It is also very inefficient because most of the time there is nothing for the care assistant or nurse to do. The person may be comfortable and asleep.

A staff member could easily care for more than one person - which is the way institutional care runs.

The ratio of care assistant to those ill is up to three to one at home - with shifts and cover for days off, holidays and sickness. On a hospital ward it can be 1.5 to one or lower.

The reality is that most areas can provide twenty four hour care but only for a very limited time. There is usually great reliance on other family members at home to help. But in our increasingly fragmented society how likely is that? Less likely than it was. So what is the effect on community care?

Community care but no community

Care in the community is a major plank of public health policy in almost every developed nation, and many developing countries. This is because it is cheaper with unpaid family members doing much of the work.

Let us suppose that out of the 650,000 who die each year, there are an extra 2% or 13,000 that are seriously ill at home on their own, because single living has increased as a result of the sexual revolution.

For each of these people there is, on average, a significantly greater input of community services required. Let us add an extra £1,000 to the notional bill for care, less than the cost of twenty four hour support for two weeks, or six extra days in hospital. That will add £13 million to our total bill.

Relate and other advice

Finally there is the cost of specialist organisations like Relate, devoting time to support marriages or providing advice on relationships, housing or other things.

Relate's annual income was £9.8 million for 1992/3, running 130 local centres for marriage counselling. The Citizen's Advice Bureau in the UK has a huge network of information and advice centres in Britain. Their figures from 1992-3 show that 8.7% of all enquiries were for family/personal reasons in 1992-3, but also 23% for benefits advice, and 9% for housing or property issues all of which may be heavily weighted to those separating or divorced. There are many other smaller support, counselling or advisory services. I think it reasonable to take a total figure for Relate and all other help as around £15 million.

The other costs of family disintegration then stack up as follows:


Millions of pounds pa. Social workers time 22

Health visitors time 16

Family therapists 1

Child psychiatrists 4

Children in care (contribution) 500

Statemented children (schools) 7

Community care cost increase 13

Relate / Citizens advice bureaux 15



Costing juvenile crime

Finally, we turn to perhaps the most contentious area of all: juvenile crime. We have seen there are many ways in which the sexual revolution is probably adding to the problem of youth crime. the big question is by how much?

Let us first look at the total bill for theft, burglary and arson, and then how much is committed by teenagers before beginning to make a realistic estimate.

The Association of British Insurers says that there were 384,000 claims for car theft in 1993, with payouts of £492 million. Insurers also paid out £749 million for domestic burglaries, and £325 million for arson attacks. I have ignored thefts from commercial premises.

Half of all crime by ten to twenty year olds

How much of this was carried out by teenagers? Home Office figures for 541,000 known offenders in 1992 found guilty or cautioned show that one in five are ten to sixteen years old, and a further one in four are seventeen to twenty. That means 45% of all known offenders are between ten and twenty, mostly males. One in three men have a criminal record by the age of thirty five.

Most offenses committed by the young are against property. For example, 64% of ten to thirteen year old boys offenders were involved in theft or handling stolen goods. That means that more than 45% of thefts and burglaries are committed by youth. Let us take a figure of half the total property crime bill of almost £1.6 billion, or £800 million a year.

Then we need to add a proportion of the total bill on justice and law: the £7.1 billion spent on policing, £3.6 billion on law courts, £1.7 billion on prisons, remand and borstals, £1 billion on legal aid, and £0.3 billion on probation costs, totalling just under £14 billion not including the costs of running Parliament. This total is 6% of government expenditure, up from 4% in 1986.

Let us take 45% of that bill to represent the cost of running the justice and police system for crime committed by ten to twenty year olds. That will add £6.3 billion to £800 million.

Therefore youth crime now costs the nation a staggering £7 billion a year, almost 3% of the entire government budget, equivalent to running up to 8,000 primary schools for 5 million pupils.

It may cost more because Home Office research shows that the younger people are when they first offend, the more likely they will go on doing so as adults. Therefore strictly speaking we should say that whatever influences teenage crime is also having an effect on adult crime a few years later.

The bill for sexual chaos?

There are very few people who would say that there is absolutely no link at all in any teenagers between family trauma, unhappiness, and delinquent behaviour, particularly after looking at the evidence in the previous chapter.

If you think that the effect is only 5%, take the figure of £350 million. If it is 50% then take the figure of £3.5 billion. Let us suppose that only a fifth of the enormous cost of teenage crime is attributable in any way to family problems and add just £1.4 billion to our bill for the sexual revolution.

Total cost of the sexual revolution

The total annual cost of the old sexual revolution in simple economic terms is therefore already coming to almost £8 billion every year. However there is another cost we have left out.

As we have seen, the British government calculates the benefits bill for single parents as £3.4 billion in 1994. We have already allowed a lot of this in our calculations of separation and divorce costs. However, some of the £3.4 billion relates to - say - teenage girls or women who become pregnant outside of a stable relationship, for whom there has been no divorce, or separation, or break up of a live in arrangement.

We have some indication of how common this is from the way in which births are registered. A total of 153,384 babies born outside marriage were registered in two names in 1991, evidence perhaps of an ongoing relationship at that time, while 54,000 were registered as having a single parent.

Let us allow a third of the £3.4 billion for single parents who were not included in the relationship break up calculations above.

That will give a total of around £9 billion a year for the costs of the sexual revolution, equivalent to 3.3% of the entire government budget in 1993.


Our total of the economic costs of the British sexual revolution per year stacks up as follows:

Millions of pounds pa.(minimum)

Sickness and death/years lost 1,000

Divorce/separation/breakup 5,100

Family disintegration (other support) 600

Youth crime 1,400

Single parenting (proportion) 1,100

Total per year: 9 billion

It is hard to visualise such a large sum. It is the same amount spent on all road building, road maintenance and railway investment. For the same amount you could pay for 26% of the entire health service, or 28% of all education in schools, colleges and universities. An expensive experiment.

But this is the annual cost.

What about the cost over the previous ten year period? It is not as much as the annual 1994 figure multiplied ten times. This is because we must assume that every year from 1986 to 1995 the costs were increasing until they reached that 1995 figure.

If the annual cost in 1995 was twice that in 1986, and the increase in percentage terms was constant every year, then the total ten year bill works out at £67.5 billion, almost twice the entire annual spend on the health service. If the costs per year also doubled from 1976 to 1985 then the cost over the last twenty years could have been £100 billion.

On the same basis the bill from 1966 to 1975 would have been £2.25 billion a year or £16 billion for the decade (in today's money), and £8 billion from around the birthday of the sexual revolution in 1956 until 1965. That gives us the total cost of this disastrous social experiment as £124 billion in Britain alone since it began forty years ago.

The next ten years

And if nothing changes? Then in the next decade, even assuming trends slow down by 50% until the year 2005 we will see a further £110 billion from 1996 to 2004.

Incidentally, the philosophy of the sexual revolution dictates there should be further growth. After all, no serious observer or participant could possibly look at today's society and culture and say that the sexual revolution has fully arrived. So presumably, unless the old sex revolution dies, there could be more of the same trends to come?

The British government seems to think so. For example they reckon that the £3.4 billion bill for single parents in 1994 will rise in six years to over £5 billion by the year 2000. That is equivalent to a 47% increase on six years or 78% over ten years if the same rate of linear growth continues.

So it is probably reasonable to reckon we should add £110 billion to our previous forty year total of £124 billion to give us a fifty year cost of over £230 billion in sheer cash terms alone - almost as much as the entire government budget in 1994, and most of it in spent in just twenty years.

Costs in America?

So what are the equivalent costs in other nations? America health care is more expensive - the cost of a week in hospital is around $7,000 - but income support may be more restricted.

The number of AIDS cases is vastly greater and so is the percentage of single parents. Let us take a rough costing of $100,000 per AIDS case, for around 50,000 people who die each year.

The bill for AIDS care alone then stacks up to over $5 billion. Some of this is due to HIV from drug use or blood products, but more than offset by other incidental costs of HIV including blood screening, and other anti-infection measures. If we keep a similar ratio for costs of years of economic life lost then the added costs will be a further $12.5 billion making a total AIDS bill to America in excess of $17 billion a year, not including spending on prevention.

We also need to allow for treating STDs, cervical cancer screening and treatment, and infertility. We calculated this at around £200 million for the UK. Most would say that the cost of living, legal costs, and cost of professional advice are significantly greater in the US than here.

A visit for cervical screening and examination is around $80. A family doctor consultation costs $32 and a visit to a specialist $150. Nursing care for an elderly person is $3,500 a month.

Let us say all these and other costs average out at 50% more than in the UK. I am certain this is an underestimate. Then we can work out a minimum figure in dollars adjusted for the larger population of 255 million. That will give us $2.2 billion in addition to the HIV/AIDS costs of $15 billion. We can do similar calculations for divorce, separation and break up, and other support.

And the cost of youth crime related to the sexual revolution? If the amount of crime committed per thousand young people was the same as Britain and that the cost of each crime, policing and the legal process was also the same, we would land up with a bill for $10 billion a year.

Since the largest element of this is the salaries of attorneys, judges, police and others, most of whom are paid more than in Britain, it is reasonable to think the American equivalent would be nearer $15 billion a year, even if the rates of crime were identical. So this is also likely to be an underestimate. We can do similar calculations for divorce/separation/family disintegration.

American sex revolution costs per year - minimum ($)

Sickness and death/years lost 19 billion

Divorce/separation/breakup 37 billion

Family disintegration (other support) 4 billion

Youth crime 15 billion

Single parenting contribution 8 billion

Total per year in round figures: 83 billion

The total cost of the American sex revolution then works out at an absolute minimum let us say of around $80 billion each year.

Working on the same basis as the UK, doubling costs every ten years in today's money, then the cost per year in 1986 was £40 billion and for the ten years from 1986 to 1995, around £600 billion. The total cost from 1956 to 1995 is $1125 billion, from 1886 to 2005 is £1200 billion and fifty year cost of the sexual revolution from 1956 to 2005 works out at $3200 billion.

However AIDS was hardly a problem at all prior to 1983, while we assumed a 50% reduction of sexual health costs in each ten year period, so let us mark down those costs. It won't make much difference because they are probably more than offset by underestimates in other calculations such as crime rates.

Costs of sexual revolution in Australia?

The population of Australia is around 18 million, and the country has half the British number of AIDS cases. The costs might stack up as follows (in Australian dollars).

Australian sex revolution costs per year - minimum ($ million)

Sickness and death/years lost 750

Divorce/separation/breakup 3,500

Family disintegration (other support) 60

Youth crime 700

Total per year in round figures: $5 billion

Calculations based on population a third that of the UK, exchange rate $2 per £1. Youth crime rates/costs revised down further by 25%, compared to UK. Doubling costs over ten years. 1986 to 1995 costs are then $37 billion, from 1956 to 1995, $68 billion, and from 1996 to 2005, $62 billion with a fifty year total of $130 billion. Costs do not include state benefits for single parents where there has been no split of a stable relationship.

Enough is enough

The total global cost of this experiment is impossible to justify or even imagine, yet these are cash costs alone, a tiny reflection on the shere scale of human misery, tragedy, death and despair, robbing millions of life, comfort and happiness. The sexual revolution has failed to live up to its hopes: one frustrated generation, another broken, what about the third generation to come?

We cannot seriously contemplate more and more of the same, nor indeed staying at the same level of sexual chaos. Something has to give. It is unthinkable that sexual life and expectations will continue unchanged and that the changes need to be profound.

But what will replace it? If we cannot go back, don't want to go forward and dislike the present, what do we do? Where can we go?

The answers to these important questions will tax advertisers, social planners and government officials over the next decade. The answers will be provided not by people like you but by our children. So what world are they likely to build? What are their options? What are the clues to early third millennial life? And what can we do now as individuals, partnerships, families, communities, organisations, and governments to help contain the vast medical, emotional, social and economic costs of sexual chaos in the meantime?


A revolution in sexual relationships that promised us freedom has left many in chains, in a world destroyed by sexual chaos, tragedy, loneliness, emotional pain, violence and abuse.

We have seen that a revolution which first enticed us with short term enjoyment has now fuelled a vast epidemic with several million dead and thirteen million others doomed to follow; tens of millions of others with chronic infections, cancers, serious long term damage to health and problems conceiving.

A revolution promising greater emotional fulfilment and equality has left many devastated by adultery, conflict, frustration, disatisfaction, lawsuits, depression, despair and the pressures of raising families on their own.

We have seen why this social experiment has been a disaster for a broken generation of children, many of whom are growing up scarred and looking now for something very different.

We have seen how the cost in simple economic terms alone is measured in tens of billions in just one country over one decade, and is now a significant part of government expenditure in many nations, which most of us have to pay for in extra taxation.

Rising Price of Love - book by Patrick Dixon - published 1995

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