Emerging Adults Having Less Sex Many researchers and commentators alike have noted in recent years that sexual activity is declining in American young people, particularly teens and young adults. For many, this is a good thing, as it likely also results in reduced sexual infection and teen pregnancy rates. But some are concerned, as they believe it signals the loss of an important source of intimacy and connection. Now, researchers from Rutgers and the State University of New York are seeking to further understand the reasons behind this drop in sexual activity. They posit that the phenomenon of “emerging adulthood” likely plays some role: “The theory of emerging adulthood… holds that the timing of the transition to adult roles, including those related to the for­mation and content of romantic relationships, has been delayed among recent cohorts of young adults.” Former markers of adulthood, such as finding a job or getting married, are occurring later and later for most young Americans. Might these transitions have something to do with decreased or delayed sexual activity as well? To conduct their study, the researchers use interview data from 3,213 American young people, aged 18-23, from the 2007 to 2017 waves of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics. The dependent variable was whether these interviewees reported having had sexual activity in the four weeks prior to the interview. The study controlled for age, sex, race/ethnicity, and educational attainment/college enrollment; it also included self-rated health, parental college attainment, religious service attendance, and family structure growing up as continuous variables. The researchers identified six dependent variables for analysis: economic instability, for­mation of romantic unions, co-residence with parents, electronic media use, increased physiological distress, and declines in alcohol use. The researchers found first that yes, young Americans in their sample were having less sex
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