All that paranoia you’ve heard from the pulpit about oversexed teens and their sexing ways might not really line up with reality. According to a new study from the General Social Survey, Americans are having less sex than now they have at any point since the GSS started keeping track.
There are a few reasons for this, including an aging populace, but one big surprise is that this shift is primarily driven by the younger generation. According to The Washington Post, “the portion of Americans 18 to 29 reporting no sex in the past year more than doubled between 2008 and 2018, to 23 percent.”
Americans in their 30s and 40s are more likely to be having sex than those in their 20s, studies show. Since 2008, the number of men under 30 who say they’re not having sex has tripled to 28 percent. That’s a lot higher jump than the number of women under 30 who say they’re not having sex, which has climbed just eight percent.
According to Jean Twenge, professor of psychology at San Diego State University, part of the reason for all this could be that people are getting married or at least moving into committed relationships later — meaning there’s just less opportunity for sex when you’re young.
But there’s also the fact that labor force participation has dropped so much, and people are more likely to have sex when they’re employed (apparently). And there’s the fact that so many millennials live with their parents now — which definitely cuts down on opportunities for sex.
But technology is another factor, according to some studies. The sex drive might not be as voracious and all-consuming as once believed, and could very well be losing out to our social media habits. “Maybe adolescents are not the hormone-crazed maniacs we sometimes make them out to be,” wrote Kate Julian in a cover story on the “Sex Recession” for The Atlantic. “Maybe the human sex drive is more fragile than we thought, and more easily stalled.”
If that’s true, then the temptation for pastors to cheer the sudden decline in sex might need to be resisted. It’s possible that Americans aren’t turning from sex because of a newfound commitment to premarital abstinence, but something somewhat less benign.