This has been a heartening week for those who despair of the future and younger generations. First came a story noting that the current youngest generation is, in many ways, more conservative than their parents. And now this: a study by a University of Utah researcher found that younger Americans are less likely to cheat on their spouses than older Americans are.
Despite living in a relentlessly sexualized atmosphere filled with amoral messages from the media, the number of Americans who admit to having extramarital affairs has held steady at around 16% for many years. But starting around 2004, the number over 55 (those who lived through the so-called “Sexual Revolution”) who admit cheating on their spouses began rising, while the number of adulterers below 55 began falling. In addition, the rate of teenage sex has dropped significantly since 1990. Despite all the talk of open marriages and multiple partners, the researcher predicts that “we should anticipate a future of more monogamous marriage.”
The reason isn’t clear, but one theory is that young people have been watching their elders and concluding that sex without limits isn’t making people happier. Maybe that will go down as the best legacy of the ‘60s hippie, "free love" generation: that it served as a very effective bad example to America’s youth.