A new study presented at the American Sociological Association on Tuesday shows that the "hookup culture" narrative might be a myth. Martin A. Monto, a professor of sociology at the University of Portland, found in the comparative study “no evidence of substantial changes in sexual behavior that would support the proposition that there is a new or pervasive ‘hookup culture’ among contemporary college students.”
Basically, college kids aren't having any more sex today than they did in the 1990s, despite suggestions (ahem, The Atlantic and The New York Times) to the contrary. Monto compared national data on two waves of students who had completed at least one year of college. The first wave was from 1988 to 1996, the second from 2002 to 2010. He found that today's young people aren't having sex more often or with more partners than their predecessors did.
Monto explained his interest in completing the study:
In many generations, there’s a sense that sexual behavior is changing or becoming more liberal, or we’re in some brave new era. I was a little skeptical about that myself. Because I was alive during the ’80s, and it doesn’t seem all that different.
The numbers? 59 percent of students today said they have sex weekly or more often, while only 32 percent said they've had more than one partner in the past year. What's different today is that students' partners are more likely to be friends or casual partners as opposed to longterm mates (otherwise known as boyfriends and girlfriends). 77 percent of today's students said they had a regular partner or spouse, while 85 percent said the same in the earlier generation. Monto attributes this slight decline to the "change in age of marriage."
So, college kids continue to have sex at an average rate. The world is not descending into a chaotic orgy. Back to your regularly scheduled programming.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.