If the so-called experts are to believed, millennials have “ruined” industries as varied as cruises, paper napkins, and diamonds. Now comes word from a CNBC op-ed by analyst Jake Novak that the lackluster sex lives of the demographic group the media love to hate is hurting the broader U.S. economy.
The notion isn’t as crazy as it seems.
“A number of studies have recently blamed the fall in sex and marriage rates on technology and the new opportunities it gives young adults to withdraw from in-person human relationships…Everything from online porn to sophisticated video games, to social media is being used by many as a substitute for real human contact, especially for men.”
Declining sex rates and the corresponding drop off in marriages indicate that millennials are also going to delay other aspects of adulthood such as buying a house or a car. Unfortunately, millennials are far worse off economically than members of other demographic groups.
A Deloitte study estimated that the net worth of Americans aged 18 to 35 has plunged 34 percent since 1996. Meanwhile, the costs of education jumped 65 percent during the past 10 years and the cost of food rose 26 percent. Debt for people under 30 rose 160 percent from 2004 to 2017 while average household income growth was under seven percent growth.
Paying off student loan debt — which averages around $30,000 — often means people have to put marriage and starting a family on hold.
“Fewer people making adult connections simply leads to a decline in both, and you don’t need to be an economic genius to know that less marriage and children weakens economic demand overall.”
Though some economists have blamed them for saving too much and spending too little, many millennials are not putting any money away for retirement.
Researchers have taken note of the “Great American Sex Draught” for years. Data from the respected General Social Survey found in 2018 that 23 percent of adults said they hadn’t had sex in a year, an all-time high. The reasons for this phenomenon are both sociological and economical including the fact that record numbers of young adults continue to live with their parents.
Novak argues that the “sex recession” is weakening what he calls “the primordial human desire to make with other humans and do the work to make that happen.” The “work” he’s talking about refers to the money people spend in their search to meet someone special, which can be considerable, Match.com estimated in 2016 that the average unmarried adult spent $1,596 annually on dating.
All those flowers, tickets to concerts and restaurant meals can certainly add up though it’s hard to imagine that the “Sex Recession” could cause an economic depression, as Novak suggests.