American sexual frequency estimates of the day

by on March 9, 2017 at 2:47 am in Current Affairs, Data Source, Film, History | Permalink

American adults had sex about nine fewer times per year in the early 2010s compared to the late 1990s in data from the nationally representative General Social Survey, N = 26,620, 1989–2014. This was partially due to the higher percentage of unpartnered individuals, who have sex less frequently on average. Sexual frequency declined among the partnered (married or living together) but stayed steady among the unpartnered, reducing the marital/partnered advantage for sexual frequency. Declines in sexual frequency were similar across gender, race, region, educational level, and work status and were largest among those in their 50s, those with school-age children, and those who did not watch pornography. In analyses separating the effects of age, time period, and cohort, the decline was primarily due to birth cohort (year of birth, also known as generation). With age and time period controlled, those born in the 1930s (Silent generation) had sex the most often, whereas those born in the 1990s (Millennials and iGen) had sex the least often. The decline was not linked to longer working hours or increased pornography use. Age had a strong effect on sexual frequency: Americans in their 20s had sex an average of about 80 times per year, compared to about 20 times per year for those in their 60s. The results suggest that Americans are having sex less frequently due to two primary factors: An increasing number of individuals without a steady or marital partner and a decline in sexual frequency among those with partners.

Here is the article, by Twenge, Sherman, and Wells, via the excellent Kevin Lewis.

1 Ray Lopez March 9, 2017 at 4:01 am

Old timers do it forever!

I think this is consistent with those biology studies that show as a population gets more crowded, there is less sex (though China seems to do OK with having sex despite lots of people in the room).

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2 Ray Lopez March 9, 2017 at 4:02 am

Oh, does masturbation count? Doctor-bait.

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3 tmb March 9, 2017 at 7:26 am

…..give it a rest, Ray

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4 Dick the Butcher March 9, 2017 at 8:18 am

The Coitus frequency (CF) decline is a worrisome. It likely represents a seriously negative trend. With abortion and numerous, effective contraceptive methods, coitus has become 99% recreation and 1% procreation.

I wasted my youth thinking Greek Lit./Phil. when I should have been drinking. Ttwo thoughts: One, is this a “Lysistrata-effect?” Two, is this an aging-population effect?

They made me read Plato, The Republic, in school 100 years ago. Here is a quote, “How do you feel about sex, Sophocles? Are you still capable of having sex with a woman? He replied, ‘Be quiet, man! To my great delight, I have broken free of that, like a slave who has got away from a rabid and savage master.’” The dialog proceeds to say that not only old-age but a man’s character is also vital.

Another fun fact: the birth-rate is at its lowest observed measure since they started tracking.

Are these trends evidence that Americans feel as if they’re living in 1937, not 2017?

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5 daguix March 9, 2017 at 4:25 am

Is the obesity factor tested?

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6 D March 9, 2017 at 10:04 am

The obesity epidemic started with adults sometime in the 80’s so I wouldn’t rule it out. Obesity kills testosterone levels.

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7 NP March 9, 2017 at 11:32 am

Great point about male testosterone levels, that’s sure to be a large factor.

The real elephant in the room here is the decreased sexual attractiveness of the average American woman. Take a look at photos from January ’17’s #womansmarch. Compare those versus photos of average American women from the 1960s, 70s or 80s. There’s an undeniable difference in beauty and general attractiveness.

What man is actually attracted to the proudly obese woman? The neon/skrillex SJW? Or simply an overly anti-feminine and vindictive woman?

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8 Jasy March 9, 2017 at 11:43 am

I was walking around a major college campus a little while back and noticed that the average weight of college females has risen since my days in college. Oddly though, I did not make the same observation about the males. Perhaps standards of beauty have changed to make female obesity more acceptable.

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9 Thor March 9, 2017 at 1:44 pm

I disagree that it is more acceptable. It just happened. What is unacceptable in certain quarters is bringing the subject of increased size up.

I teach History to undergrads at a college and I have seen the average size go up from the 90s to now. Sadly, we are talking about young women who are presumably in the physical prime of their lives (i.e., aged 18-26-ish), meaning: the amount of exercise they engage in will only decrease, not increase. (I say this assuming that they played softball, volleyball, etc etc. at least occasionally in Elementary and Middle and High School.

10 Jumbo March 9, 2017 at 9:27 pm

You should see pictures of commenters here. It’s not pretty.

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11 Curious March 9, 2017 at 9:31 pm

Have you taken a look at men? Most American men do not take care of their bodies, even at the highest income levels. A protruding gut, a penguin-like gait, and not the lack of even the most basic skincare regimen makes for an anti-aphrodisiac.

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12 NP March 10, 2017 at 12:26 am

Equally valid

13 Thiago Ribeiro March 9, 2017 at 4:43 am

As the economical burden for couples becomes heavier and heavier, this situation tends to get worse and worse.

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14 chuck martel March 9, 2017 at 6:16 am

A cute patootie who said she was from the General Social Survey stopped me on the street the other day and asked about my sexual activities but I didn’t think it was any of her business and she looked like a cop anyway.

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15 Thiago Ribeiro March 9, 2017 at 6:59 am

Why would the cops be interested in your sexual activities?

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16 Thor March 9, 2017 at 1:45 pm

Exactly. It’s Ray they would be interested in.

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17 Ray Lopez March 9, 2017 at 11:13 am

Yes, and this underscores a second problem with this survey: selection bias and self-reporting bias. A condom manufacturer was doing a survey in Greece a while ago, and I observed her for days and noticed the woman doing the survey would only stop young guys. When I asked to take her survey, she said I was ‘too old’ even though at the time I was in my early 40s, and, ironically, I was actually using condoms at the time (I hate condoms). Selection bias in sampling. I actually got her removed after I told her that her sampling was not scientific, then I complained to the major, who I knew, and she was gone within a few days (I have influence). It may have been (this being the Balkans) a scam for prostitution btw rather than a real survey, would not surprise me. In any event, this kind of thing also leads to self-reporting bias: are you going to admit to a cute young girl or even a regular guy that you don’t have sex? Of course not. That’s why in every country (in Greece) you see how the country did ‘above average’ compared to other countries in sexual frequency. Greece for a while (according to a Durex advertisement) was #1 in the world for being sexually active, ditto for TR’s country Brazil, and the USA has been #1 for a long while.

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18 Captain Obvious March 9, 2017 at 6:21 am

How do you count “how many you have sex per year” ? Do you count each time you go inside? What kinds of sex are counted? …. I think its not so easy to measure this in a reliable manner, so not sure about whether this study can tell us anything.

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19 tmb March 9, 2017 at 7:24 am

…tsk, tsk you are not being a team player here

you are supposed to accept these creative statistics tidbits at face value and ignore the huge uncertainty in this subjective “estimate” of national level sex frequency

the topic is the message, not facts

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20 RPLong March 10, 2017 at 10:19 am

Excellent comment.

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21 Axa March 9, 2017 at 8:10 am

Indeed, creative statistics. From the article……..To estimate the number of times a year participants had sex, we recoded the responses as:‘‘not at all’’ = 0 to‘‘More than three times a week’’ = 5 * 52 = 260.

More than 3 equals 5. I’d like to be able to apply this happy accounting in my job =)

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22 Alan March 9, 2017 at 6:49 am

I blame The Complacent Class.

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23 Alan March 9, 2017 at 6:50 am

Or is it the Great Stagnation (Stag Nation?)

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24 rayward March 9, 2017 at 6:58 am

“An increasing number of individuals without a steady or marital partner and a decline in sexual frequency among those with partners.” Maybe the latter explains the former.

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25 Brett Champion March 9, 2017 at 7:13 am

People just have more to do nowadays than in the past. Boredom is the number one reason why people have sex.

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26 The Other Jim March 9, 2017 at 7:53 am

You’re doing it wrong.

Actually, I suspect you are doing many things wrong.

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27 Art Deco March 9, 2017 at 7:48 am

So much for Viagra.

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28 Axa March 9, 2017 at 8:16 am

From this perspective, Viagra only has an effect on heterosexual couples where the man has problems and homosexual couples. “Female viagra” was approved by the FDA a year ago or so, however it’s price is enough to counter any arousal effects in women. Perhaps it’s time to think about women……they’re also involved in happy sex.

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29 Thor March 9, 2017 at 1:48 pm

it’s price is enough to counter any arousal effects in women

“Wait, I have to have sex instead of eating this ice cream and watching my TV show … AND the female Viagra costs how much?!?! WTF!”

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30 Parent's Basement March 9, 2017 at 8:43 am

Was this funded by the pr0n industry? I feel less guilty already.

“Declines in sexual frequency were similar across gender, race, region, educational level, and work status and were largest among those in their 50s, those with school-age children, and those who did not watch pornography.”

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31 Axa March 9, 2017 at 9:26 am

Interest in porn signals higher libido or curiosity. People who claim in public being uninterested in porn and are honest about it may have lower than average libido. People who claim in public being uninterested in porn but consume lots of it in private may have higher than average libido, regardless of having sex frequently with a partner or not………….wait a min, why are you looking at me like that?

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32 Samuel March 9, 2017 at 9:16 am

I blame Netflix.

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33 Max March 9, 2017 at 9:26 am

You’re supposed to chill afterwards

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34 Floccina March 9, 2017 at 9:54 am

Could this be evidence that women’s power is rising relative to men’s power?

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35 Anon2 March 9, 2017 at 11:37 am

Are you familiar with the average millennial woman? She’s riding a different dick every weekend.

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36 Curious March 9, 2017 at 9:38 pm

Baseless, red pill-esque bullshit.

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37 Anon2 March 9, 2017 at 11:25 am

These data do not reflect the new reality. Trump has become President and the status of his supporters has risen. Thus more desire for sex. The frequency of straight sex that does not involve strap-ons or cuckoldry should rise.

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38 Turkey Vulture March 9, 2017 at 11:45 am

So there is a lot of low-hanging fruit in terms of increasing societal sexual wealth.

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39 Jasy March 9, 2017 at 11:46 am

Sexual desire is closely linked with mental health. Could this trend be correlated with declining mental health in the population? Opioid abuse is on the rise, there are many people who are disabled and out of work. These data fit together I think.

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40 Mr Mike March 9, 2017 at 1:17 pm

I wonder if there’s an inverse relationship between sex frequency and masturbation frequency.

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41 Chip Overclock March 9, 2017 at 5:12 pm

I haven’t read the original article, but I wonder if the frequency of having sex declines with age, and if the trend correlates with the average age of the population. Could just be one more artifact of the bulging demographic of the Baby Boomers.

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42 Flannery Bro'Connor March 10, 2017 at 8:28 am

“The results suggest that Americans are having sex less frequently due to . . . a decline in sexual frequency among those with partners.”

What will the social sciences uncover next?

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43 David Youngberg March 10, 2017 at 9:43 am

Clearly, this is an example of how changing opportunity costs changes behavior.

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44 RPLong March 10, 2017 at 10:23 am

Anyone who has ever had an active sex life knows that sexual activity correlates strongly with emotional intimacy and high levels of trust between partners. If we’re looking for explanatory factors, we should start there.

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