July 06, 2017
A new study suggests that younger married Americans may be more faithful to their spouses than the generation that came before them.
University of Utah professor Nicholas H. Wolfinger analyzed data from the General Social Survey and found that since 2004, Americans over the age of 55 have been reporting noticeably higher levels of extramarital sex, a shift from the trend seen in previous years.
Wolfinger found the rates of respondents sleeping with someone other than their husband or wife were about five or six percentage points higher in the older age group.
In 2016, 20 percent of respondents older than 55 reported having extramarital sex, while 14 percent of those younger admitted the same.
Wolfinger suggested a number of possibilities for the numbers, including people in their 50s and 60s coming of age during the sexual revolution; members of the older generation being in midlife married for 20 to 30 years; and a dip in teen sex in the 1990s.
Most people still disapprove of extramarital sex, Wolfinger noted. But oddly enough, those in their 50s were the only group where the number of those disapproving has grown, despite that age group having the highest rates of extramarital sex.
Wolfinger said that could be attributed to either attitudes not matching behaviors or a split in the group between those who disapprove and those who have sex outside wedlock.
He also said the numbers suggested there could be an increase in more monogamous marriage in the future.