Brits are having less sex. The global recession, social media and the ‘sheer pace of modern life’ have all been blamed.
Since 2001, the proportion of British people who told the British Medical Journal (BMJ) they had not had sex in the last month rose from a quarter to a third. Less than half bump uglies every week.
Most of the drop comes from people who are sexually active and living with a partner, suggesting the problem isn’t that more people are becoming monks and/or unable to find anyone to do it with. And most people said they’d like to have more sex than they are. So the researchers think it may be society and the economy that’s turning people off.
The BMJ’s lead researcher notes that many of the sexless are “juggling work, childcare and responsibilities to parents who are getting older”. This sort of juggling act is more common than it once was. That’s partly because many more women, who were traditionally expected to be full-time unpaid caregivers, now combine looking after children or adults with paid employment. And it’s partly because people are living much longer than they used to, which means there are more elderly people requiring some form of support from their adult kids.
Many good things have come out of increasing both life expectancy and opportunities for women. Simply upping the pool of potential workers benefits businesses immensely, as does being able to make use of specific women’s unique skills and talents (think how many female Einsteins may have been silenced by sexism). And older people’s tendencies to spend more money than younger people means the “grey pound” helps companies sell stuff and grow.
But as the sex survey suggests, these trends are also making everyone super time-squeezed. Most people are still having kids and demand for elderly parents care is going up. Simultaneously, the amount of free time the average woman has to spend on caregiving is going down.
Many women, completely reasonably, don't want to give up on their career. Many men don't want to either (a trend that is made bigger by a cultural expectations around gender roles). And the vast majority of workplaces still operate in a way that means maximising your earnings and career progression requires working full-time.
The end result is that many people end up trying to combine two activities (paid employment and unpaid caregiving) that both require long hours, lots of energy, and mental and physical exertion. The result is often stress, burnout, and corner cutting.
… most of us live in a home of friends, family, or with a partner. Our homes are like mini-economies, with their own systems of dividing up work, providing resources, and exchanging skill-sets. Not only do these affect our ideas of who does what on a wider scale, our homes themselves and where they’re located have an effect on the economy around us, and the economy we experience.