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The millennial ‘sex recession’ is part of an even bigger sex drought among Americans

INSIDER logoINSIDER 4/8/2019 Julia Naftulin
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  • In 2018, the number of Americans who said they didn't have sex for an entire year was the highest it's ever been.
  • In December 2018, The Atlantic published an article about a "sex recession" among young adults.
  • People have theorized that this lack of sex stems from the rise of social media, advances in women's equality and independence, and older generations who had more sex being replaced with younger generation who have less sex.

Ever since The Atlantic published a story on the so-called "sex recession" in its December 2018 issue, the internet has become increasingly concerned with the sex lives of millennials, the demographic that seems to be driving this decline in sex.

Now, data from the General Social Survey has reinforced the idea that the United States is in the midst of a larger "Great American Sex Drought," the Washington Post reported.

Celibacy rates have increased steadily over the past three decades, but in 2018, the number of people who reported not having sex for the entire year was the highest it's ever been. According to General Social Survey data, nearly one in four US adults reported not having any sex during the year.

It appears that millennials are fueling the trend. From 2008 to 2018, the number of Americans between ages 18 and 29 who reported having no sex doubled. They're not the only ones giving up on sex, though.

While older generations coupled up and got married earlier than millennials because of cultural norms at the time, these people are now aging past their sexual primes and are likely having sex less as a result. They're being replaced by young people who choose marriage later in life (if at all) and may be having less sex as a result. 

"There are more people in their twenties who don't have a live-in partner," Jean Twenge, professor of psychology at San Diego State University, told The Washington Post. "So under those circumstances I think less sex is going to happen."

a close up of a person © Milan Ilic Photographer/Shutterstock

In addition to marriage trends, changing cultural norms are also potentially contributing to the sex drought. The increased availability of online entertainment, including streaming services and social media, play a role in how often sex occurs. That means even people who are coupled up may choose to spend their free time on Netflix or Instagram rather than on bedroom time with their partner.

Additionally, women have gained more independence in recent decades and feel they have a greater ability to pick and choose their partners. Fewer straight women are getting married than ever before.

Still, this new data suggests young people aren't the only ones widely abstaining from sex. It also raises the question of whether less sex is necessarily a bad thing, especially if it means women are more independent and able to exercise control over their own bodies more freely than ever before.

RELATED VIDEO: Can Couples Survive A Sexless Marriage?



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