Sexual Revolution Reconsidered

July 13, 1984

Report Outline
Tracking the Trends
Seeds of the Revolt
Re-Examining Marriage
Special Focus

Tracking the Trends

Comeback for Marriage and Family

A funny thing happened to the baby-boom generation on its march to sexual liberation. With its vanguard now nearing mid-life, this trend-setting generation appears to be dropping out of the revolution it once led. Some say the sexual revolution is over. Time magazine's much discussed “Sex in the '80s” cover story this year read like an obituary for one-night stands and swinging lifestyles. Courtship, marriage and family have staged a comeback, the magazine declared. NBC-TV followed suit with “Second Thoughts on Being Single,” a one-hour documentary that reported many formerly sexually active women have become “born again prudes.” “We're witnessing one of those pendulum swings that periodically occurs on the American scene; this time it's a swing toward marriage and away from casual sex,” the televised report concluded.

The notion that marriage and family are back in style is supported by housing statistics gathered by the Census Bureau. For years “unmarried couple households” had been the fastest-growing segment of household-formation statistics. Between 1970 and 1983 the number had tripled, rising from half a million to 1.9 million, accounting for 4 percent of all “couple households.” But in a recent 12-month span, ending in March 1983, “married couple” households had become the fastest-growing segment.

Demographics also tell the story of marriages. The number of marriages rose steadily for eight years through 1982, then dipped slightly in 1983 as the number of Americans of prime marriage age—under 26—began to shrink. Those born during the peak of the baby boom are now 27. The number of births increased steadily from 1975 to 1982. And the number of divorces declined in 1982 and 1983, the first interruption since 1955 in a long upward trend.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Sexual Behavior
Feb. 22, 2019  Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Apr. 28, 2017  Sports and Sexual Assault
Oct. 21, 2016  Pornography
Apr. 15, 2016  Decriminalizing Prostitution
Oct. 31, 2014  Campus Sexual Assault
Apr. 27, 2012  Sexual Harassment
Jan. 22, 2010  Sex Scandals
May 23, 2008  Prostitution Debate
Nov. 04, 1994  Sex on Campus
Jun. 11, 1993  Prostitution
Jul. 13, 1984  Sexual Revolution Reconsidered
Aug. 25, 1971  Legalization of Prostitution
Apr. 01, 1970  Sexual Revolution: Myth or Reality
Dec. 30, 1963  Sex on the Campus
Marriage and Divorce