Researchers from Peking and Fudan universities carried out a survey of more than 6,800 people over the course of three years to find out how young people approach sex compared to older generations.
They found that young Chinese people are having less sex, despite the rapid development of the internet in China and more liberal attitudes towards feminism and sexuality.
The report, published in the Chinese Journal of Sociologyfound that “sexual attitudes have become more liberal in China”, with people losing their virginity earlier in life and engaging in “more diverse sexual activities”.
“Surprisingly, however, we find that sexuality seems to have diminished in its appeal among young cohorts, who have lower rates of sexual frequency than preceding cohorts,” the researchers added.
They also revealed concerns that Chinese youth may “follow in the footsteps” of young people in Japan, where the rise of “hitori” culture has seen more people choosing to live and work alone.
The movement, known as “ohitorisama”, involves an increasing number of people who do not engage in romantic relationships and prefer to carry out activities that are usually associated with being social by themselves, such as eating meals and singing karaoke.
The report’s authors wrote that the appeal of sex appears to be “diminishing”, with “online games, pets and other forms of entertainment” serving as “alternatives to sex”.
They warned that more attention should be paid to the emerging middle class in China as extreme working environments “may pressure many high-income professionals and managers into giving up their sex lives”.
It comes as China is struggling to boost its low birth ratewhich fell to 1.16 in 2021, far below the 2.1 OECD standard for a stable population.
China’s birth rate is considered one of the lowest in the world. Earlier this month, the country’s National Health Authority said it would discourage abortions and take steps to make fertility treatment more accessible in an effort to raise it.