Millennials in the U.S. aren’t getting down-and-dirty as much as the young adults of yesteryear, according to a survey of nearly 27,000 people.
New research has found that the percentage of young adults between the ages of 20 and 24 who reported having no sexual partner after the age of 18 grew from six percent among those born in the 1960s to 15 percent of young adults born in the 1990s.
Researcher Ryne Sherman from Florida Atlantic University said these findings contradict “popular notions” that the Internet has given rise to more sexual encounters.
“You would expect, based on the popular notion that with apps such as Tinder, it’s a group that is looking for hook-ups and not long-term relationships,” said Sherman. “[But] what we are seeing is this group is less likely to hook-up, so to speak, than previous generations.”
The research, which was conducted by academics from three U.S. universities and published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior, looked at data collected through the nationwide General Social Survey, which has been asking U.S. adults about their sexual behavior annually since 1989.
The data showed that young adults between the ages of 20 and 24 and born in the 1990s were more than twice as likely to report that they’d had no sexual partners since the age of 18 than young adults of the same age that were born in the 1960s. More than 15 percent of the group born in the 1990s reported that they hadn’t had sex since turning 18, compared to nearly 12 percent of those born in the 1970s or 1980s. Among those born in the 1960s, the figure was just over six percent.
The authors said a growing trend of abstinence among all adults since the 1960s could have something to do with the shift, which was greater among white individuals, those who hadn’t pursued post-secondary education, and those who attended religious services. The shift was also more noticeable among women, with the authors finding that 2.3 percent of women born in the 1960s are sexually inactive compared to 5.4 percent of those born in the 1990s.
“Americans are now strikingly more accepting of premarital sex, but more of those born in the 1990s in particular are nevertheless foregoing sex during young adulthood,” the authors note. “The new sexual revolution has apparently left behind a larger segment of the generation than first thought.”
The authors also propose that certain factors like young people living at home longer, as well a rise in video games and online entertainment services like Netflix, are keeping young people occupied in ways unavailable to previous generations. Easy access to pornography could also be playing a part, said Sherman.
“Access to pornography may be able to relieve sex drive,” he said.
It could also simply be that the ways young people interpret survey questions have changed, added Sherman.
“Young people in the 1950s, when they were asked if you had a sexual partner, [might] say ‘oh oral sex, that counts’, whereas young people today might say ‘oh no that doesn’t count because I didn’t actually have sexual intercourse.’”
h/t The Guardian
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