A new study out of Widener University in Chester County says Americans are having sex less frequently than 25 years ago.
According to the results, the decrease is due to two primary factors: an increasing number of people without steady or marital partners and a decline in sexual frequency among those with partners.
Associate Professor Brooke Wells of the Center for Human Sexuality Studies at Widener University in Chester, Pennsylvania, along with two other team members, worked to analyze data from the General Social Survey—a nationally representative survey of more than 30,000 U.S. adults that gathered information about how often people have sex.
“While previous research has consistently indicated that partnered people have sex more frequently than single people, the partnership advantage seems to be shrinking,” Wells said.
Data shows that the number of 18 to 29-year-olds who are not living with a partner has increased from 48% in 2006 to 64% in 2014. Results also show that average American adults said they had sex about 64 times a year in 2002, but the activity had dropped to 53 times a year by 2014. Additionally, sexual frequency declined among people who are married or living together, but stayed steady among those without partners.
“These data speak to the shifting nature of sex and relationships and provide further evidence that young adults today are not hooking up as often as media representations would lead us to believe,” Wells explains.
The study reveals that the decline was greatest among white people, married people, those in their 50s, those with a college degree, those with children between ages 6 and 12 at home, and those who had not seen a pornographic movie in the last year. The biggest declines were among the highly educated and people who are married or living together.
“Surprisingly, work hours did not explain the decline,” Wells said. “In fact those who worked more hours actually reported more frequent sex. However, the study did not examine time spent connected to work outside of work hours, or screen time, both of which may negatively impact sexual frequency.”
The researchers explain that “these findings come at a time in American culture when people are much more likely to approve of premarital sex and sex between two same-sex adults,” and that the study gives people a better understanding of changes in sexual behavior and relationships.