The results come from an analysis of the General Social Survey that has kept a historical record of the concerns, experiences, attitudes, and practices.
And, while that might be accurate on some level, new research has found the people most likely to cheat aren’t who you think they are—they’re your parents and grandparents.
That shocking info comes courtesy of a study from the Institute for Family Studies, which discovered that 20 percent of married Americans over the age of 55 say they’ve cheated on their spouse, while “just” 14 percent of married Americans under 55 have had extramarital affairs. And, not surprisingly, rates of infidelity start to fall after people hit age 70. The results come from an analysis of the General Social Survey, a sociological survey that has kept a historical record of the concerns, experiences, attitudes, and practices Americans have had since 1972.
It hasn’t always been that way: The study found that younger people were more likely to have affairs until about 2000, when married people under 55 started cheating less and older people started stepping out on their spouses more. And that number has really skyrocketed—according to the data, only 10 percent of older Americans in 1991 said they had cheated on their spouse.
Of course, a few factors could be at play: Older Americans came of age in the '60s and '70s, when a sexual revolution was taking place and infidelity wasn’t frowned on as much. These older American also could have aged out of the under 55 group and into the “older” group, while maintaining the same behaviors along the way. They also might be more willing to open up about extramarital affairs now than they have in the past. Nicholas H. Wolfinger, the study’s researcher, also points out that Viagra hit the market about 20 years ago, helping older people have the sex they might have craved but couldn’t physically have in the past.
This info may leave you feeling the need for a shower (fair), but there is some good news in all of this: It looks like marriages might be more exclusive in the future for younger people. “Barring any unforeseen developments, we should anticipate a future of more monogamous marriage,” Wolfinger says.