Compared with previous generations, American millennials don’t buy homes and cars, or drink alcohol at the same rate. Perhaps most striking, they have less sex. This piece argues this is due to millennials’ low risk tolerance.
Allison Schrager writing in Quartz:
Relationships are risky. You might find deep fulfillment, or get rejected. A casual relationship could turn unpleasant, the other person may get too attached, you may get too attached, and there could be a messy break-up. Going on a first date can be awkward, uncomfortable, wonderful, or any other number of things. There is evidence that millennials may be less inclined to take these risks. They date less, despite technology that enables them to meet more people, and are slower to marry or be in long-term relationships. All of this results in less sex.
Some commentators and economists speculate that millennials are more risk averse than previous generations. This is hard to generalize. But one thing sets millennials apart from previous generations is that they benefit from a higher risk-free return from not leaving the house. When TV was boring and video games were rudimentary, you had to go out into the real world for the best entertainment and stimulation, both good and bad. No longer. Now everyone can live what feels like an entertaining life without taking the risk of leaving the house. Binging prestige television shows or playing immersive video games is almost guaranteed to be a pleasant evening—Tinder offers no such promises.
But like avoiding risk in any other markets, the benefits are limited. Taking risks is how we get more from life and move forward. A evening spent with Netflix may feel good in the moment, but a lack of social interaction may ultimately contribute to loneliness and anxiety.