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Boomers Have Had More Affairs Than Other Adults

Trend driven primarily by people in their 50s and 60s

Extramarital Sex Survey

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Americans age 55 and older are reporting extramarital liaisons at rates significantly higher than younger Americans.

You might expect today's young people to be the ones with sex on their minds, but a new study reveals that when it comes to extramarital liaisons, boomers are much more daring.

Since 2004, Americans age 55 and older have been reporting rates of extramarital sex that are significantly above those of younger Americans, according to Nicholas H. Wolfinger, a professor of family and consumer studies at the University of Utah, who analyzed data from the General Social Survey, an ongoing study that has been tracking Americans’ attitudes and behavior since 1972. He found that in 2016, 20 percent of respondents 55+ acknowledged they have strayed from their marriage vows, compared with 14 percent of those under 55.


According to Wolfinger, the adultery trend is being driven primarily by people in their 50s and 60s, who typically have been married between 20 and 30 years. The rate of infidelity drops among people 70 and older; indeed, by age 80, only 12 percent of respondents say they’ve ever had an affair. 

Wolfinger attributes boomers' greater tendency to have extramarital affairs to their having grown up during the sexual revolution of the 1960s and 1970s. He also notes that people in that age group typically have had more sexual partners in their lifetimes than Americans younger or older than them.

Wolfinger’s work was published online by the Institute for Family Studies. 

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