Apparently Millennials Aren’t Having Sex, Study Shows

STYLECASTER/Getty Images

STYLECASTER/Getty Images

The latest study in a parade of research on the habits of millennials has unearthed that young Americans are having way less sex than generations before us, according to a new paper published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior—like, around half as much. Specifically, 15 percent of millennials between the ages of 20 and 24 said they’d had no sexual partners since turning 18, whereas only 6 percent of GenX’ers born in the 1960s said the same when they were that age.

The research contradicts the idea that a “hookup culture” means millennials have lots of casual, no-strings sex, and adds more proof to a collection of evidence that today’s younger generations are maturing more slowly than the ones before them—from living at home longer to having a tough time finding and keeping jobs.

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Interestingly, the change was most dramatic among young women, whose rate of sexual inactivity tripled, from 5 to 16 percent, as compared to older generations (for men, it nearly doubled, from 8 to 14 percent). According to a Washington Post article, which reported unpublished findings from the study provided by the lead author, the trend was also more pronounced among people who went to college: 10 percent of 20- to 24-year-old millennials with high-school educations had no sex partners after age 18; whereas 19 percent of young, college-educated adults weren’t sexually active.

“Being 20 to 24 is not what it used to be,” said Jean Twenge, the study’s lead author, who wrote a book about millennials called Generation Me. “It used to be that a lot of them, especially women, were married at that time, or were living with someone and were living independently of their parents. 20-year-olds are like what 16-year-olds used to be.”

As for the plunge in sex rates, specifically, CNN speculates that technology (choosing texts and Netflix over sex—seriously), a willingness or interest in waiting longer to have sex, and less pressure to peak romantically and sexually in your 20s. Twenge echoes the sentiment that people feel freer to not be super-sexual if they aren’t naturally that way. “We’ve still got 85 percent who’ve had sex,” says Twenge. “But there is a probability that we’re looking at a small subset of the population that ends up being asexual, that as society is becoming more accepting of different choices, it’s more OK to say ‘I’m just not a sexual person.’”

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