Using data over the last 25 years of the World Values Survey, which includes nationally-representative data from many countries around the world, Will Wilkinson,a Cato Institute Research Fellow, found steady decreases in intolerance of homosexuality around the world. However, there has been little change in attitudes toward prostitution.
Between 1981 and 2006, Wilkinson found in 7 wealthy liberal democratic nations a stark decrease in the percentage of people endorsing the belief that homosexuality is “never justifiable.” Among these 7, the United States appears to have remained the most conservative regarding homosexuality; although, it is clear from social sciences research that attitudes toward homosexuality and lesbian, gay, and bisexual people has become steadily more tolerant since the 1990s.
Wilkinson also found a nearly-uninterpretable pattern among these countries in individuals’ attitudes toward prostitution. The general trend over time points toward a growing tolerance of sex work, but the patterns are difficult to discern within each individual country.