Are people these days really having less sex?


Seems like an odd question to ask perhaps, but you can read a lot into what's happening in the world by the amount of sex people are having (at least according to us).

Demographic trends are clearly linked to the number of babies that are being born - issues like ageing populations, mental health, economic growth prospects can all be linked back to the type and quality of the relationships between people.

Why the question now?

Recently we've noticed an increasing number of articles and TED talks lamenting the flagging (western world) sexual activity numbers - and were curious to find out if this is indeed a problem; and what might be causing a lack of demand for sex?

So are people these days really having less sex?

According to research (we're not entirely convinced as to how they did the research, or even how they defined the term 'having sex') the answer is 'YES'.

People are indeed having less sex, and the decline is being seen among younger adults, particularly men.

In the survey study of US adults from 2000 to 2018, sexual inactivity increased among men aged 18 to 24 years and 25 to 34 years and women aged 25 to 34 years during the study period, with the increase among men mainly occurring among unmarried individuals. Men with lower income and with part-time or no employment were more likely to be sexually inactive, as were men and women who were students.

Why are people having less sex?

The answer to this might not be as you would perhaps expect, or as simple as you might want it to be.

  1. There's just too much distraction these days: 30 years ago - TV ended at 21h00 at night when Dallas finished. Then you had a whole lot of time on your hands to do other things. These days there's TV 24/7, social media, gaming, baking sourdough bread etc etc etc to keep you distracted. Sex is just one option from many. There's clearly then a lot of competition.
  2. Delayed adulthood: Young people these days are in general reluctant to become adults. They're not choosing to drive a car, they're drinking less, they still live with their parents, they spend a lot of time in isolation from each other. It goes without saying then that they are going not end up in as much physical contact with each other as was the case with previous generations.  “It’s part of an overall trend toward less risky behavior since 1990, including not only sex but alcohol use, risky driving, and criminal activity,” Dr. Arnett told Healthline.
  3. Poor economic conditions: The poor economic climate has resulting in many people loosing their jobs, or not being able to find work. Poor economic prospects tend to create stress and anxiety in people as well as low self-confidence (not exactly a recipe for heightened levels of sexual desire).
  4. Porn is not necessarily to blame: As much as some people would love to lay the blame on the increased usage and ease of access to pornography as a substantial cause of the declining popularity of the real thing, there is no credible evidence to suggest that porn (more than any other of the 'distractions' mentioned above) is to blame.

So in summary, people are probably having less sex because they're preoccupied with other stuff, spending more time alone and frankly feel too tired and stressed to warrant the effort.

That trend is most likely going to continue and strengthen over time.

The consequences of this could be far more disruptive than what it seems on face value.

People having less sex might seem like a trivial issue when compared to what else is going on in the world right now, but declining population growth is a serious issue when combined with the social systems that we currently rely on. Less intimate connection between people can only augment the mental health challenges that we are already worried about.

It seems like our own addiction to dopamine will become our greatest challenge as a species. It's an enemy even more difficult to overcome than climate change.


Sex Frequency Statistics
Updated 14/11-2022 This is the first mapping of global sex frequency. The analysis covers 107.9 million data points from more than 70 thousand respondents