The younger generation and the decline of sex

Back in 2020, the conservative Christian writer Rod Dreher wrote a blog post deploring the growing lack of interest by young American women in marriage, children and heterosexual sex.

A blogger who called himself the Flaming Eyeball then wrote a blog post saying Dreher didn’t tell the half of it.  He linked to a series of article depicting a younger generation ravaged by poor physical and mental health, declining testosterone in young men, and loss of interest in dating, marriage, having children and in sex itself.  

A short time late he suspended his blog, but another blogger had taken the trouble to copy it.  

None of the trends he mentioned are new to me, and he didn’t even get into the topics of Internet addiction, pornography addiction and addiction to prescription drugs.  But getting all this information at one time in one post made me stop and think.

I’m hard-put to think of a single factor that would explain all of this.  It would have to explain not only rejection of old-time moral standards, but the general apathy and listlessness.

Has the decline of religion and traditional values left the new generations with a lack of purpose?  Do some people find a complete freedom of choice too much to deal with?  How much is due to addictions?

Or is there a general sense of hopelessness in the face of new existential threats to humanity—the new four horsemen of the apocalypse, famine, pestilence, nuclear war and global warming?

Or is there some insidious biochemical change in the environment, akin to lead poisoning?

I am re-posting the Flaming Eyeball links and summarizing their contents.  My goal is to create a second archive of this information, and to invite comments.  

Please let me know whether you think this is real, what you think the reason might be and what, if anything, might be a solution.

No Families, No Children, No Future by Rod Dreher for The American Conservative (2020)

There are more unmarried women in the United States than married women.  Fertility rates are at a 35-year low.  Thirty percent of American women under age 25 identify as LGBT.

The Kids Are Not Alright by the Flaming Eyeball (hat tip to Nikolai Vladivostock), saved by Eddie Willers on Anodyne Mendacity (2021). 

Flaming Eyeball said he’s a Zoomer university student, fairly successful and not an incel (involuntary celibate).  But he said a disturbingly large fraction of the guys he met in high school and college seldom or never went on dates, experienced sex or had girlfriends.  He thinks something must be going on.  So he did some research, the results of which follow.

U.S. birth rates are plummeting and the reason isn’t clear by Carla Johnson for the Associated Press. (2019)

U.S. birth rates in 2018 were the lowest on record for women in their teens and twenties  The absolute number of births was the lowest since 1986.

More than ever, Americans are not having sex by Christopher Ingraham for The Washington Post (2019)


U.S. Marriage Rate Drops to Record Low by Gaby Gavin for U.S. News (2020)

The marriage rate in 2018 fell to the lowest point since records started to be kept in 1867.   Seventy percent of adults age 18 to 34 were unmarried; the figure for 1978 was 40 percent.

Serum Testosterone Levels Among Adolescents and Young Adult Men in the United States in the Journal of Sexual Medicine (2019)

An estimated 20 percent of American adolescents and 10 to 40 percent of young adult men have serum testosterone deficiencies.  Serum testosterone has been declining for decades among young adults.

U.S. adult obesity rate tops 42 percent, highest on record, by Brandon Champion for Mlive Michigan (2020)

Men Are Getting Weaker—Because We’re Not Raising Men by David French for National Review (2016)

Male grip strength has been steadily declining.  A study indicates that college-age men have weaker grips than women in their 30s.

STD Rates Continue to Rise in the U.S. by Amy Norton for WedMD (2019)

The number of cases of gonorrhea, syphilis and chlamydia reached 2.5 million, an all-type high, in the U.S. in 2018.

Why Women Are More at Risk for STDs by Susan Fishman for HealthGrades (2020)

Sexually transmitted diseases are rising faster among women than among men, which may indicate more women are having sex with fewer men.  Overall, the trend is: Less sex, but more unsafe sex.

Why Americans are having less sex by Ian Kerner for CNN. (2017)

Some theories: (1) Couples are having children later in life, which may make them too tired for sex.  (2) Social media is a distraction from sex, and fantasy sex may be more appealing than real sex.  (3) Women are less likely to have sex when their partners want it and they don’t.

Generational decline in testosterone levels observed by Katie Kavaltis for Endocrine Today.

Women are more likely to be bisexual than men and to change their minds by Fiona Macrae for The Daily Mail (2015)

Health and Health-Related Behaviors 2018: University of Minnesota –  Twin Cities Students

Forty-two percent of UM Twin Cities students have had diagnosable mental illnesses, and 19.5 percent within the previous 12 months.  Sixteen percent were taking medications for mental illness. 

College Quarantine Breakdowns Leave Some at Risk by Natasha Singer for The New York Times (2020)

Lliving with the Covid pandemic makes students more isolated and more stressed.

A quarter of millennials say they have no friends, study finds, by Natalia Rahhal for The Daily Mail (2019, 2020)

Actually, the figure is 20 percent, but that’s a lot—much more than previous generations.

Why Aren’t Young People Interested in Getting Licenses or Buying Cars? by Lloyd Alter for TreeHugger (2019)

A Record Percentage of Women Don’t Have Kids | Here’s Why That Makes Sense by Emma Gray for HuffPost (2015)

The Census Bureau reported that 47.6 percent of women age 15 to 44 in 2014 never had children.  That’s the highest percentage since that figure started to be tracked in1976.  The writer said raising children is costly and a lot of work, and the burden falls mainly on women, so this figure shouldn’t be surprising.

In U.S., Decline of Christianity Continues at Rapid Pace by Pew Research Center (2019)

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Atheism Doubles Among Generation Z by Barna Research (2018)

The Crisis of Biblical Illiteracy by Kenneth Berding, a professor of New Testament at Biola University.

The Bible used to be a common point of reference, even for those who weren’t particularly religious.  No more, this professor says.

Study: 56% of Liberal Women Under Age 30 Have Been Diagnosed as Mentally Ill by Robert Stacy McCain for The Other McCain (2020)

Following the links in McCain’s post, I found this chart created by researcher Zack Beauchamp.

Most young people don’t qualify for military service or careers by Kim Strong for the York (Pa.) Daily Record (2019)

According to 2017 Pentagon data, 71 percent of young people don’t qualify for military service because of obesity, criminal records or lack of a high school diploma.

Army issues waivers to 1,000 recruits for mental health issues by Tom Vanden Brook for USA Today (2018)

During a 13-month period in 2016-2017, the U.S. Army, in order to meet its recruiting goals, issued waivers to more than 1,000 recruits who’d been treated for mood disorders, and 95 more for self-mutilation.

CDC: One quarter of young adults contemplated suicide during the pandemic by Brianna Ehley for Politico (2020)

While 10.7 percent of survey respondents reported contemplating suicide in the previous 30 days, 25.5 percent of those age 18 to 24 did so.

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I may at some point do an encore version of this post, based on newer information and additional thinking about this topic.

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One Response to “The younger generation and the decline of sex”

  1. The younger generation and the decline of sex — Phil Ebersole’s Blog | Vermont Folk Troth Says:

    […] The younger generation and the decline of sex — Phil Ebersole’s Blog […]

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