Ueda et al., 2020, "Trends in Frequency of Sexual Activity and Number of Sexual Partners Among Adults Aged 18 to 44 Years in the US, 2000-2018"; Note: This survey was conducted every two years from 2000 to 2018 and is charted in four-year groupings; Chart: Axios Visuals

Americans — especially young heterosexual men — are reporting less sexual activity, per a study that looks at the past 18 years.

Why it matters: Given that sex and reproduction are fairly key to a society having a future, the results raise eyebrows. But what the survey really shows is how technology has fundamentally altered how human beings socialize.

What's new: In a study published on June 12 in JAMA, researchers analyzed survey responses between 2000 and 2018 to look at frequency of sexual activity and the number of sexual partners for men and women between 18 and 44.

  • With few exceptions, sexual activity showed a marked decline — especially among young men and especially in recent years.
  • Nearly a third of men aged 18–24 reported no sexual partners over the previous year in 2016–18, up from 18.3% in 2000–02. The drop was particularly sharp among men who were unemployed or reported lower income.
  • The percentage of women who reported no sexual partners also increased over the same time period, albeit less sharply. The only exception was women aged 35–44.

What's happening: In a commentary appearing with the study, psychologist Jean Twenge outlined a few possible explanations for the drop in sexual activity. These include general delay in achieving the markers of adulthood — including living at home longer — as well as the increase in the availability of pornography.

  • But sexual frequency has also been decreasing among married and older people who presumably have reached adulthood, and Twenge argues there isn't a clear link between pornography consumption and reduced sexual activity.
  • Instead, Twenge puts much of the blame on everyone's all-purpose scourge: the internet. With digital entertainment of all sorts available on demand, time spent online displaces face-to-face social interaction, which generally is required for sexual activity.

Of note: A new report from the Brookings Institution estimates that the U.S. could see up to 500,000 fewer births next year because of the COVID-19 recession.

The bottom line: Increasingly, we'd rather canoodle with our phones than each other — and COVID-19 will only accelerate that trend.

Go deeper... Date from home: Romance in the age of the coronavirus

Go deeper

Bill Clinton slams McConnell and Trump: "Their first value is power"

Former President Bill Clinton on Sunday called Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) vow to fill Ruth Bader Ginsburg's vacant Supreme Court seat before the next presidential inauguration "superficially hypocritical."

The big picture: Clinton, who nominated Ginsburg to the court in 1993, declined to say whether he thinks Democrats should respond by adding more justices if they take back the Senate and the White House in November. Instead, he called on Republicans to "remember the example Abraham Lincoln set" by not confirming a justice in an election year.

Pelosi: Trump wants to "crush" ACA with Ginsburg replacement

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday that President Trump is rushing to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg because he "wants to crush the Affordable Care Act."

Why it matters: Pelosi wants to steer the conversation around the potential Ginsburg replacement to health care, which polls show is a top issue for voters, especially amid the coronavirus pandemic. The Trump administration has urged the courts to strike down the law, and with it, protections for millions with pre-existing conditions.

Mike Allen, author of AM
Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Democrats' Armageddon option

A makeshift memorial outside the Supreme Court yesterday. Photo: Jose Luis Magana/AFP via Getty Images

Furious Democrats are considering total war — profound changes to two branches of government, and even adding stars to the flag — if Republicans jam through a Supreme Court nominee, then lose control of the Senate.

On the table: Adding Supreme Court justices ... eliminating the Senate's 60-vote threshold to end filibusters ... and statehood for D.C. and Puerto Rico. "If he holds a vote in 2020, we pack the court in 2021," Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass.) tweeted.