Kids These Days

Vox has a great article on teenage behavior compared to generations past. Despite the consistent complaint about “kids these days,” they appear to be doing better than before. After selecting my birth year (1986), it turns out that teenagers today are

  • 45% less likely to smoke
  • 30% less likely to binge drink
  • 15% less likely to have tried alcohol at all
  • 15% less likely to have sex before 13 (with 40% fewer teen girls getting pregnant)[ref]4.5 percent of teen girls got pregnant in 2001 compared to 2.5% in 2015.[/ref]
  • Slightly more likely to have had sex in the last 3 months (34% compared to 33.4%)[ref]However, this is lower than the 37% of kids in the early 1990s.[/ref]
  • Better at using birth control
  • More likely to wear a seat belt
  • Less likely to carry a weapon

This is compared to when I was a teenager, specifically a freshman/sophomore in high school. The data goes back to those born in 1972, so pick the year you were born (if you were born past 1972) and see how your generation compares to kids today.[ref]This isn’t to say that “kids these days” don’t have problems, as Jean Twenge has documented. But it should derail the narrative of a total decline in generational quality.[/ref]

2 thoughts on “Kids These Days”

  1. I’d be happy about a drop in teen sex if I didn’t think it’d been substituted 100% by porn. It’s not that the rising generation is more moral. Their method of immorality has just changed. Sure, that might decrease the amount of STDs and teen births, but what will be the consequences of the substitute vice?

    The same goes for most of the other stats. Kids aren’t doing better these days. They’re just substituting the vices of our youth for different ones.

    The Simpsons said it best:

    Well, I was wrong. The lizards are a godsend.

    But isn’t that a bit short-sighted? What happens when we’re overrun by lizards?

    No problem. We simply unleash wave after wave of Chinese needle snakes. They’ll wipe out the lizards.

    But aren’t the snakes even worse?

    Yes, but we’re prepared for that. We’ve lined up a fabulous type of gorilla that thrives on snake meat.

    But then we’re stuck with gorillas!

    No, that’s the beautiful part. When wintertime rolls around, the gorillas simply freeze to death.

  2. Things they do look awful c-c-cold…

    Anyway, really interesting data, but if anything I think that my generation might have been worse in Israel, at least as far as sex, smoking, drugs, and alcohol use go.

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