Nearly one in four Americans — 23 percent of those surveyed — hadn't had sex at all in 2018. This high point caps a slow but steady trend since the mid-1990s.
Age is one reason fewer Americans overall are having sex. People 65 and older make up more than 15 percent of the US population today, according to census data; they were 12.5 percent in 1990. The frequency of sex drops steadily from the respondents' late 40s, and a Washington Examiner report on the data notes that by the age of 80, 75 percent of respondents haven't had sex in the past year.
But young folks are also driving this American boudoir breakdown: the share of Americans age 18 to 29 who said they hadn't had sex in the past year has doubled in the past decade, reaching 23 percent of their number. Thirteen percent of 50 to 59-year-olds also hadn't gotten busy in 2018, an increase of of 5 percent since 2008. Thirty to 39-year-olds and 40 to 49-year-olds were the friskiest cohorts, with just 7 and 9 percent of those groups, respectively, reporting celibate years. Both, however, saw an increase in their number left high and dry: 1 percent for the dirty 30s and 3 percent for the horny 40s. Experts attribute some of this difference to the tendency among Americans to establish partners later in life — people in their 30s and 40s are more likely to be married or cohabitating, which is more likely to lead to regular sex.
A gulf is also opening between the genders — 28 percent of men between 18 and 30 reported having no sex in the past year, compared to 18 percent of women. This represents an 18 percent increase among men in that age bracket since 2008, but about a 10 percent increase among women.
Jean Twenge, a San Diego State University professor of psychology, told the Washington Post several factors are likely contributing to this gulf. The labor force participation rate of men overall has declined in the last 20 years, and she noted that data shows a "connection between labor force participation and stable relationships." The outlet also pointed out that 35 percent of men aged 18 to 34 were living with their parents as of 2014, an arrangement that Twenge noted was not likely to be conducive to bringing home sexual partners.
Bradford Wilcox, a University of Virginia sociologist, told the Free Beacon that a "culture of caution" on the rise among young adults may also be behind the dearth in doin' it.
"They drive less, for instance," he said. "Sex is risky. So young men and women are less inclined to risk it." He and Twenge also pointed to an increased array of entertainment — social media, streaming apps, online gaming, pornography — may be tempting young Americans away from dating. "The widespread availability of high-quality, low-cost entertainment may be reducing the likelihood that young adults spend time together in real life, thereby reducing opportunities for sex," Wilcox said.