What does it mean to be a young person in the world today? Spending your life on your phone, tick. Worried about the future and the state of the world, tick. Not having as much sex as the generation before you, tick.
According to new data published in The Atlantic magazine, researchers from San Diego State University determined that people in their early 20s are two and a half times as likely to be abstinent as Gen Xers were at the same age. More widely, between the years 1990 to 2014, the average adult went from having sex 62 times a year to 54 times a year – giving rise to the term “sex recession” which we are apparently in the midst of.
Good times. Or in this case, a distinct lack thereof.
There are a number of factors which may be leading to this disturbing reduction in romping. From an increase in people masturbating and watching online porn (and therefore diminishing libido when it comes to IRL interactions), to a decrease of the amount of people coupling up (see onlide dating apps, which ironically offer more choice but less selection), to a rise in young people living with their parents — all of these elements are sadly leading to less and less lovin’.
There’s also the sense of general malaise about the world, explains journalist Kate Julian, who collated the report for The Atlantic. “Lots of people who I interviewed alluded to the news cycle, stress about politics and also just general anxiety about the sort of precarity we all live with now,” Julian said. “I do think people realize that's making them unhappy, and may also make it hard for them to focus on other things they’d like to focus on. But I don't think you could blame, for example, President Trump, because the numbers predate that."
But it’s not all bad. As Julian points out, the upside of the data shows that the teen birth rate has declined dramatically, and more people feel comfortable declining sex.
For her, the more serious ramifications is what it means about quality of life. “If people aren’t having sex, but they're doing other things they find fulfilling, that's fabulous,” she says. “But if people are not having sex, and wish they were, that's more concerning to me. I just want people who may be struggling a little bit to realize they're not alone.”