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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

Cuomo says words may have been "misinterpreted" following allegations of harassment

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo at a Feb. 22 news conference. Photo: Seth Wenig/pool/AF via Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a lengthy statement on Sunday saying he " never inappropriately touched anybody" but acknowledged that "some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation," after two of his former aides accused him of sexual harassment.

Why it matters: Prior to Cuomo's statement, in which he adds that he "never inappropriately touched anybody" or meant to make anyone uncomfortable, the governor's office and the state attorney general went back and forth in a public disagreement about how to investigate the allegations.

Cyber CEO: Next war will hit regular Americans online

Any future real-world conflict between the United States and an adversary like China or Russia will have direct impacts on regular Americans because of the risk of cyber attack, Kevin Mandia, CEO of cybersecurity company FireEye, tells "Axios on HBO."

What they're saying: "The next conflict where the gloves come off in cyber, the American citizen will be dragged into it, whether they want to be or not. Period."

Cedric Richmond: We won't wait on GOP for "insufficient" stimulus

Top Biden adviser Cedric Richmond told "Axios on HBO" the White House believes it has bipartisan support for a stimulus bill outside the Beltway.

  • "If our choice is to wait and go bipartisan with an insufficient package, we are not going to do that."

The big picture: The bill will likely undergo an overhaul in the Senate after House Democrats narrowly passed a stimulus bill this weekend, reports Axios' Kadia Goba.