A couple weeks ago, I shared on Twitter some new data from the General Social Survey suggesting that the portion of young Americans who reported no sexual activity rose rapidly in 2018. Chris Ingraham used the same data for a very widely shared Washington Post article making a few arguments for why. Most of the discussion of this phenomenon has focused on the increasing sexlessness of young men, and its association with the “incel” online phenomenon. Michelle Goldberg, for example, on the New York Times podcast The Argument, argued this week that sexless young men “are the alt-right..young men need to step up, and I don’t think it’s the job of young women to make men better, or tame and civilize men.”
It’s worth noting, though, that among the 18 to 34 year olds that are the focus of this discussion, the group most likely to report no sexual activity in 2018 are low-income women, at a rate that seems to have increased comparably to young men:
This seems to me to go along with the idea that we are not seeing a specific disintegration of young men’s individual personal and sexual efficacy (as opposed to everyone’s personal and sexual efficacy), or even a general turn to “hypergamy” as is often claimed, so much as a deterioration in courtship and pairing, accompanying the increasingly asymptotic retreat from marriage.