Sex is great, so great that recently some researchers concluded it makes life at work better. Information on the greatness of sex is useless if we aren’t actually doing it, though.
Image: Screenshot/The Room
A large study including data from over 25,000 people seems to confirm what many were probably thinking but too embarrassed to talk about: Compared with the early 2000s, Americans bonked fewer times per year in the early 2010s. That said, these are self-reported results, so don’t go accepting them as gospel yet.
The scientists reviewed the results of the General Social Survey, which provides semi-annual data on how Americans 18 and older are feeling and what they’re up to. According to the new study, the survey has included the question “About how often did you have sex during the past 12 months” since 1989, using a scale from zero to six for increasing frequency. The researchers sliced and diced the data, calculating the amount of sex over time per group by pulling in other data, including demographics and who was single or married.
Both the zero-to-six responses and the researchers’ estimates of how often people are boning fell over time: Americans bumped uglies an estimated 60 times per year on average from 1989 to 1994, 62 times per year from 1995 to 1999, 62 from 2000 to 2004, 58 from 2005-2009 and 54 from 2010 to 2014. That means they’re down eight sexings per year since the early 2000s.
You can check out the analysis in the Archives of Sexual Behaviour (behind a $58 paywall), led by professor of Psychology at San Diego State University Jean Twenge. Twenge, incidentally, also wrote a book about how millennials are more “entitled and “miserable” than ever. If sex is your main metric for happiness, then this data does seem to show increasingly miserable millennials, but the decline was about the same in the 30 to 39 year old and 50 to 59 year old age groups. Twenge’s own age group, the 40 to 49 year olds, seem to be having the same amount of sex now as they did 10 years ago. The view must be nice up there in sex-tower.
Twenge attributes the decline to fewer married couples, since those in steady relationships probably have sex more than single people, but even married couples’ sex lives seemed to be lagging. She also cites “declines in happiness and increases in depression”. So basically, you’re having less sex because you’re less happy, and you’re less happy because you’re having less sex. Damn.
The study is fraught with places to plant a sceptical eye — the number of encounters per year are all based on the author’s estimates, which draw data from that zero-to-six approximation question. More importantly, the data is self reported. If someone asked you how many times you do it weekly, would you go through every encounter in your head and count? Maybe Americans are just more honest today than they were in the 2000s. There are so many other factors that can alter the results of a self-reported study. The authors call out another issue: What are we even calling sex? P-in-Va-G? Anal? Oral?
The problem isn’t that bad if you think about it, at least it isn’t as bad as Japan. If you’re one of those Millennial Bashers, add this feather to your “millennials aren’t doing X” cap. Otherwise, maybe go ask that nice American international student out and prove Dr Twenge wrong.