March 14, 2018

THE CULTURE WARS ARE A ROUT:

Too Much Netflix, Not Enough Chill: Why Young Americans Are Having Less Sex (W. BRADFORD WILCOX and SAMUEL STURGEON February 08, 2018, Politico)

American adults, on average, are having sex about nine fewer times per year in the 2010s compared to adults in the late 1990s, according to a team of scholars led by the psychologist Jean Twenge. That's a 14 percent decline in sexual frequency. Likewise, the share of adults who reported having sex "not at all" in the past year rose from 18 percent in the late 1990s to 22 percent from 2014 to 2016, according to our analysis of the General Social Survey. (The GSS, which is fielded every two years and is directed by the University of Chicago, is a large, nationally representative and federally funded survey of American adults covering a range of attitudes and behaviors.)

Similar trends are apparent among younger men and women. In the early 2000s, about 73 percent of adults between the ages of 18 and 30 had sex at least twice a month. That fell to 66 percent in the period from 2014 to 2016, according to our analysis of the GSS.

Other 18- to 30-year-olds aren't doing it at all. From 2002 to 2004, 12 percent of them reported having no sex in the preceding year. A decade later, during the two years from 2014 to 2016, that number rose to 18 percent.

Sex is also down among teenagers. Earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a decline in the share of high school students who said they ever had sex: from 47 percent in 2005 to 41 percent in 2015. Sexual activity among teenagers fell the most between 2013 and 2015, about the same time that sex took a real dip among 18- to 30-year-old adults.  [...]

There are upsides to the sexual counter-revolution that appears to be unfolding, one of which is that it seems likely--especially in the wake of the #MeToo movement--to encourage women and men to be more considerate, committed and consensual about all matters sexual. This counter-revolution may be cutting down on sex, and sex-related talk and behavior, that is unwanted, awkward and abusive--and probably casual sex in general. "Now could be the time to reintroduce virtues such as prudence, temperance, respect and even love," Christine Emba of The Washington Post wrote. "We might pursue the theory that sex possibly has a deeper significance than just recreation and that 'consent'--that thin and gameable boundary--might not be the only moral sensibility we need respect."

This would be good, in part, because women are, on average, more likely to derive satisfaction from sex in committed relationships, compared with casual ones. One recent study of college women by the sociologists Jessie Ford and Paula England found that women reported more orgasms in committed relationships than in hookups, and that the gender gap in orgasms between college men and women was smaller in committed relationships than in hookups. The sexual counter-revolution, then, may mean that women, especially, get to enjoy more committed, mutually gratifying sex and endure less joyless casual sex for the sake of male gratification--in other words, less Aziz Ansari-style sex (at least as reported by the website Babe.net).

Another apparent upside is that the share of babies born to teenage and unmarried mothers is falling. The birthrate for 15- to 19-year-olds is down by 51 percent since 2007. And the percent of babies born outside of marriage reached a record high of 40.6 percent in 2008 but has since fallen (to 39.8 percent in 2016) and will likely fall even more in the coming years as young adults continue to postpone sex and have fewer partners. This downturn is the first of its kind since the 1960s. It's good news in part because children born to married parents are more likely to avoid poverty, enjoy stable families, and thrive, educationally and economically.

Posted by at March 14, 2018 4:55 AM

  

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