Thursday, July 01, 2010

How common is the 40 year-old virgin?

I'm talking to a friend (yeah, via M:TG, predictably enough) the other day and he comments in resignation that he's going to be a 40 year-old virgin.

"Becoming one in a million, baby. If you didn't have that damn Y chromosome, being able to say as much would give you a little extra luster." (To try and help him avoid that oh so 'terrible' fate, I should've quipped something along the lines of "if you envision it, so indeed it shall be." Oh well).

Later, I wondered how exaggerated the one in a million presumption was.

Thank triviality for the GSS! Turns out the 40 year-old virgin isn't a mythic rare, but at one in fifty, he's at least an uncommon. Of the 2,288 respondents surveyed*, 49 identified themselves as cherries. Because of the stigma attached to sexless men, this probably understates the true prevelance of middle-aged male virgins existing in our midsts. It could plausibly be as high as 5%, or one in twenty.

GSS variables used: YEAR(2000-2008), SEX(1), NUMMEN(0), NUMWOMEN, AGE(40-89)

* Limited to straight men at least 40 years of age who participated in the survey between 2000 and 2008.


18 comments:

Razib said...

the % is higher among my readers, and probably yours :-) jason malloy looked up this datum years ago, i think on a thread where some of my unicorn-riding readers were outing themselves....

OneSTDV said...

So you're telling me a male above the age of 11 who plays "Magic: The Gathering" still has his v-card? Color me shocked.

Jokah Macpherson said...

"Because of the stigma attached to sexless men, this probably understates the true prevelance of middle-aged male virgins existing in our midsts. It could plausibly be as high as 5%, or one in twenty."

I saw an article recently about a study that strongly suggested the gap between reported sex partners in males and females was almost entirely due to underreporting by women. Obviously, middle-aged male virgins would have more incentive to overreport than the average man but I remain dubious that the true percentage is as high as 5%. I generally don't bring up my own unicorn riding in conversations (for the sake of others if nothing else) but I would not be ashamed to admit it if asked by a researcher.

"...the % is higher among my readers, and probably yours..."

So you're saying if I quit reading the Audacious Epigone and Gene Expression I will get laid fast?

agnostic said...

Yeah piece of advice #1 is to put down those playing cards!

I remember reading a book on the history of demography in England and even from the late middle ages or maybe early modern period, it wasn't uncommon to find male bachelors in the single-digit percents.

A very small number of them may have been getting some tail outside of marriage, but most were probably property-less bums who got shut out.

Basil Ransom said...

AE, there was a great study of forty year old virgins actually, albeit the 25-45 year old cohort. Men were 56% more likely to be virgins than women. Abstinence from drugs and drinking, going to church, being Asian or less so white, being college educated (girls only), being homosexual and not serving in the military or going to prison, were all correlated with being a virgin.

See http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/122421649/abstract?CRETRY=1&SRETRY=0

Saint Louis said...

I would guess that as the sexual revolution has made our society more tolerant of pre-marital and extra-marital sex that the ones left out are shy or somewhat nerdy men. In a different era many of these 40 year old men would be married.

Anonymous said...

"I remember reading a book on the history of demography in England and even from the late middle ages or maybe early modern period, it wasn't uncommon to find male bachelors in the single-digit percents."

Priests?

silly girl said...

What were their wordsum scores compared to the other men? The average is probably less interesting than the distribution. Is the distribution roughly the same as other men?

Audacious Epigone said...

Razib,

You could always add the question to your next readership survey!

OneSTDV,

Hah, it would be quite the precocious 11 year-old who would play mtg.

Basil,

I remember when that came out and thinking that the the reported percentage of men who were virgins was surprisingly high, and that the numbers were hard to follow. But that could be because I only have access to the abstract.

Basil Ransom said...

AE, what's your email address? I'll send you a pdf of the study.

Here's a picture of female virgins: They earn more, drink and toke less, are more likely to go to Church, have a college degree and are slightly fatter. Many of them are lesbians.

The virginity frequency among female Hispanics (10.3%) is slightly higher than among female whites (9.6%), though Hispanic men report lower rates than white men (11.7 vs 18.2). Asian men have a lower virginity rate than white men, while the opposite is true for women. But the Asian sample size is small (n=68).

AE, they say that they got the data from the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth. Do you know if it's possible to get to the data yourself? It'd be interesting to combine different traits (eg race, income, education, etc.) as one would with GSS analysis, and see the results.

Basil Ransom said...

I found the Survey data here. I've never used SAS before, but I'm going to try and examine the data later.

Link: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nsfg/nsfg_2006_2008_puf.htm

Audacious Epigone said...

Basil,

Crush41@iwon.com for AE. Or if you give me yours, I can get in contact with you from my personal account.

The survey data is available here, but I don't see anything akin to the UC Berkley page for the GSS to cross-reference the data with.

agnostic said...

"I would guess that as the sexual revolution has made our society more tolerant of pre-marital and extra-marital sex that the ones left out are shy or somewhat nerdy men. In a different era many of these 40 year old men would be married."

The sexual revolution was reversed by the sexual counter-revolution that began in the early 1990s. As a result, dorkier guys have better luck with girls now, conditional on actually approaching them.

(They may be scoring less, but so is everyone else compared to the '60s through the '80s.)

In an earlier age, losers tried to improve themselves into one of the respectable types -- learn a sport, become the life of the party, etc. Think of Animal House, Stripes, Weird Science, Revenge of the Nerds, Karate Kid, etc.

Now they're content to stay stuck in their rut because society, including girls, doesn't punish this like they used to. Now killjoy dorks are one of the cool cliques.

Audacious Epigone said...

Silly girl,

There are only 22 male virgins aged 40+ from 2000 onward for which wordsum scores were recorded. The median is 3, very low. The median for non-virgin males during the same period of time is 6, a full standard deviation difference. The distributions are both pretty normally distributed from their respective medians.

Audacious Epigone said...

Agnostic has his finger on the pulse.

ironrailsironweights said...

The sexual revolution was reversed by the sexual counter-revolution that began in the early 1990s. As a result, dorkier guys have better luck with girls now, conditional on actually approaching them.

It's that "conditional on" part that makes all the difference. Many dorks are simply too introverted to approach girls.

Peter

Razib said...

AE,

i did ask.

12% of readers have never had sexual intercourse. N = 71. the % breakdown by age for the unicorn riders is:

0-17 6 8.45%
18-25 37 52.11%
26-35 21 29.58%
36-45 5 7.04%
46-65 2 2.82%
66- 0 0.00%

age, N, and %

they skew young. here's the readership in general:

0-17 6 1.00%
18-25 104 17.33%
26-35 185 30.83%
36-45 115 19.17%
46-65 165 27.50%
66- 25 4.17%

in the 18-25 age group 37% of my readers are virgins. among males in the general GSS population it's around 15%. that makes sense, as GNXP readers are less likely to be impulsive animals, as well as social retards :-)

Izu said...

It's a shame that all will have to answer for the things they have done in the body at the end of time, which is drawing near. I would ask was it worth it? All we need to do is repent, ask for forgiveness. We'll be able to have all the pleasure we want once the new heaven and earth are made, and we won't die or ever "climax" and sputter, while the many are burning for eternity, just cuz they couldn't say "I was wrong" to God, now DAT SUCKS. Have fun y'all.