Baby boomers warm to casual sex after ‘following the social norm’

Interesting that Australia is by far the most accepting country when it comes to casual sex. I am actually (just) a PRE-baby boomer but I have had sex with many women over the years. I stopped counting when I got to 50. So I guess I am simply a good Australian. But I DID come of age in the free-wheeling '60s

A one-night stand, fling, tryst or even a dalliance – whatever the name – casual sex is often seen as the preserve of the young.

Yet nearly a third of baby boomers now approve of no-strings-attached sex, according to a new academic study.

Data from The Policy Institute at King’s College London show that UK attitudes on casual sex has changed not just over time but also between the generations, with researchers concluding that, when it comes to casual intimacy, “the social norm has changed and the boomers have just followed that.”

The researchers collated data from an international survey conducted across the past four decades and found that in 2009, just eight per cent of baby boomers (who are born between 1946 and 1964) found casual sex was “justifiable”. But by 2022, this had jumped to 30 per cent.

However, younger cohorts such as Gen Z, which captures anyone born between 1997 and 2012, and millennials, who are born between 1981 and 1996, are still far more likely to hold this view at 67 per cent and 55 per cent respectively.

The researchers also found that in 1999, overall, one in 10 Britons thought having casual sex was justifiable.

However, more than four times as many (42 per cent) held this view in 2022, with a considerable rise from as recently as 2018 (27 per cent).

This shift means the UK is now the fourth most accepting country when it comes to casual sex, ahead of France (26 per cent) and Norway (33 per cent) – and not far off Australia (48 per cent), which tops the list.

‘Moral concerns’ now ‘simple facts’

Professor Bobby Duffy, director of The Policy Institute, said: “It’s easy to lose sight of just how much more liberal the UK has become over a relatively short period of time, and how liberal we are relative to many other nations.

“What were once pressing moral concerns – things like homosexuality, divorce and casual sex – have become simple facts of life for much of the public, and we now rank as one of the most accepting countries internationally.

“This mostly isn’t just driven by younger generations replacing older generations. All generations have changed their views significantly, although the oldest pre-war cohort now often stand out as quite different, and on some issues, like casual sex, there is a clear generational hierarchy, with the youngest much more accepting.”


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