Millennials don’t exactly have the best reputation. We’ve been called lazy, entitled and thin-skinned snowflakes, and for the most part, these stereotypes are backed-up with relentless anecdotal evidence.
But what about the stereotype that millennials are notorious for hooking-up? With technological advances propelling so-called “sexting” into commonality and the explosion of hookup apps like Tinder and Happn, you would think this label in particular would hold water.
Surprisingly, it doesn’t.
According to a new study posted in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior on Tuesday, young people are not only having less sex than Generation X’ers, they’re also less promiscuous, maintaining fewer partners than their predecessors. Further, they seem to be waiting longer to initially engage in sexual intercourse: The percentage of high school students who report to be virgins has increased from 46 percent to 59 percent.
When analyzing young people—including millennials and those comprising “iGen”—it was found that they are having far less sex in their 20s than previous generations over the past century. In fact, over the past 30 years, the number of sexually inactive young adults has more than doubled, notes The Washington Post.
“Contrary to popular media conceptions of a ‘hookup generation’ more likely to engage in frequent casual sex, a higher percentage of Americans in recent cohorts, particularly millennials and iGen’ers born in the 1990s, had no sexual partners after age 18,” found the survey.
Promiscuity is on the decline, too. As reported in the same journal last year, millennials averaged eight sexual partners, less than the average ten from Generation X’ers and 11 from Baby Boomers.
Overall, young women “are more likely to be sexually inactive compared to men, whites more than blacks, those who did not attend college more than those who did, and [those] in the East more than [those] the West,” said study co-author Ryne Sherman, a Charles E. Schmidt College of Science at Florida Atlantic University associate professor.
The authors of the study speculate that increased knowledge of sexual health risks and the notorious slow-moving “growing up” pace of most millennial are partial contributors to the decline in promiscuity and overall sex among young people.
Sherman adds that self-assuredness and self-confidence—particularly with women—could also be a factor: “While attitudes about premarital sex have become more permissive over time, the rise in individualism allows young American adults to have permissive attitudes without feeling the pressure to conform in their own behavior,” she said.