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Why are younger adults having much less informal intercourse?

Occasional sex is declining for both young men and women, according to a study by Rutgers University in New Brunswick that found that drinking less is a major reason for both sexes to play video games and live at home with parents – but just one more reason for men.

The study, published in the journal Socius, found that between 2007 and 2017, the proportion of 18 to 23-year-old men who had casual sex in the past month fell from 38 to 24 percent. Among young women of the same age, the percentage fell from 31 to 22 percent.

The main driver behind the decline in young men is the decline in alcohol consumption, which alone explains more than 33 percent of the decline. The increase in computer video gaming explains about 25 percent of the change in sexual behavior in young men, while the increase in cohabitation with parents explains a little more than 10 percent. No other factor explained a significant part of the decrease.

“The youngest cohorts of young people take on adult roles later in life and are dependent on their parents for extended periods of time,” said study co-author Lei Lei, associate professor of sociology at Rutgers. “The decline in casual sex engagement in this age group could be another sign of a delayed transition into adulthood.”

In young women, about 25 percent can be attributed to a decrease in alcohol consumption, which was the only factor that explained a significant part of the decrease. The increase in Internet use among young women suppressed an 11 percent decline in casual sex. The study states that both young women and men now play computer games more often than in the past, while gaming only inhibits the occasional sexual activity of young men.

Researchers say that young men living with their parents are only 63 percent likely to have casual sex of those who live independently. Young men who play computer games every day are less than half the likelihood of having casual sex that of those who never play. And young men who drink daily are about 5.5 times more likely to have casual sex than those who don’t drink.

“The new generation of young adults became more individualistic and less social in real life, but became more involved in social media and online gaming networks,” said Lei. “The changes in the way young people socialize are affecting their opportunity to have casual sex, which often serves as a rehearsal or rehearsal for long-term romantic relationships.”

Trends in young adults’ financial insecurity, including their student loan, do not appear to underpin their change in occasional sexual activity. The time spent on television is also not increasing.

The researchers analyzed survey data from the 2007-2017 panel study on the transition in income dynamics to adulthood, in which approximately 2,000 young adults, ages 18-23, were surveyed and who focused on sexual activities outside of engaged relationships. They investigated whether changes in economic status, living conditions, technology use and drinking behavior of young adults explain the decline in casual sex.


The study’s authors included a researcher from the University of Albany.

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