FLORIDA ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY

Americans Are Having Less Sex than Ever Before Study Shows

Across the board, Americans are less sexually active than ever with the sharpest decline among people in their 50s, people with a college degree, people with school-aged children, and people in the South.

A surprising result from the study revealed that the “marriage advantage” no longer holds true as the steady fall in the rate of sexual activity was in those who are married or living with partners. This group went from having sex 73 times a year in 1990 to about 55 times in 2014 – even below the frequency of sexual activity for never-married people who have sex an average of 59 times a year.


By gisele-galoustian | 3/7/2017

Across the board, Americans are less sexually active than ever with the sharpest decline among people in their 50s, people with a college degree, people with school-aged children, people in the South, and those who do not watch pornography.

Using data from the General Social Survey with a representative sample of 26,620 American adults from 1989-2014, researchers from Florida Atlantic University, San Diego State University and Widener University, published their results today in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior. Results showed a drop across gender, race, region, work status and education level. A surprising result from the study revealed that the “marriage advantage” no longer holds true as the steady fall in the rate of sexual activity was in those who are married or living with partners. This group went from having sex 73 times a year in 1990 to about 55 times in 2014 – even below the frequency of sexual activity for never-married people who have sex an average of 59 times a year.

Unsurprisingly, the study found a steady decline in frequency of sexual activity as people age, from more than 80 times a year for people in their 20s, to about 60 times a year by 45 and 20 times a year by 65. But controlling for age and time period, the group having sex most often were those born in the 1930s (Silent Generation), while those having sex the least often were born in the 1990s (Millennials and iGen).  

“Overall, all American adults are having sex about nine times fewer per year since 1989-1994 and this is particularly driven by an increase in the percentage of unpartnered adults who have sex less often on average,” said Ryne Sherman, Ph.D., co-author of the study and an associate professor of psychology in FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. “However, while the sexual frequency of unpartnered individuals remained unchanged albeit relatively low, the sexual frequency of partnered individuals has dropped the most, about 10 times less per year.”

The researchers also found that this decline was not associated with hours worked or pornography use. If anything, those working more and reported watching X-rated movies had higher sexual frequency.

“Overall, two factors seem to be driving declines in sexual frequency,” said Sherman. “First, an increase in the percentage of people who are unpartnered, which is interesting considering the availability of the Internet and Tinder age; and second, a decrease in sexual frequency among those who are partnered.”

Researchers found that Americans overall have become less coupled – in 1986, 66 percent of American adults were living with a partner and by 2014 those living with a partner was only 59 percent.

“While we don’t know for certain, we suspect that there are a number of factors that are contributing to this decline including putting off parenthood and parenting later in life, as well as the need for two-income families to make ends meet which can lead to fatigue,” said Sherman. “Also, people are generally less happy now and this may impact their overall satisfaction with their relationships or their marriage.”

-FAU-

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