Demographics of inceldom
This article discusses the demographics of inceldom. It sheds light on the number of incels in modern societies and provides evidence that in many societies among adults older than thirty there are around twice as many male incels than female incels, and that sexual frustration is not a marginal phenomenon.
- 1 Status
- 2 Race
- 3 Young incels in the U.S.
- 4 Adult incels in the U.S.
- 5 Commentary
- 6 Other countries
- 7 See Also
- 8 References
Incels appear to have diverse backgrounds regarding socioeconomic status and education status. A survey from incels.co reports 59% middle class, 34% lower class, and 7% upper class. Further, 50% had a high school degree (or are in high school), 39% college and 11% graduate school. Incels.co is, however, not necessarily representative of incels overall. Data from Germany suggest that university students are around twice as likely to never have had sex compared to others of similar age, and further supports the notion that incels have diverse socioeconomic backgrounds. The hard university courses seem to be affected more by inceldom (see IQ and sexual success).
Incels forums are often stereotyped as "angry White males", however large polls on incels.co and Braincels showed that only around half of incels in these forums are/were White. A peer-reviewed study also came to the conclusion that incels aren't mostly white. Data from Pew Research in Table 1 suggests that Whites make up 71.1% of Reddit's U.S. userbase, but only 52.4% of Braincels' U.S. members, a difference with a 95% CI of 13-24% points (p < 0.0001). There is no evidence of Blacks being overrepresented (differences in both tables below are non-significant). Hispanics are underrepresented by 4-11% points (95% CI, p < 0.0001). The "other" races make up 8.9% of Reddit's U.S. userbase, but 33.8% on Braincels. The most overrepresented races seem to be East-Asians and South-Asians, making up around 6% of the U.S. population, but around 20% on Braincels and around 13% on incels.co. These statistics correlate with racial fertility rates being 20% higher in Hispanics (notably Mexicans make up 63% of hispanics) and 8% lower in Asians when compared to Whites. Caveats which may limit the accuracy of these figures include: Braincels is nearly exclusively male and may suffer other biases different from the mixed-sex Pew Research samples. Latino includes Brazil, but not Spain, and Hispanic vice-versa. Moreover, some of the underrepresentation of Whites in incel forums may have resulted from bans of White alt-rightists.
The surplus of Asian males agrees with findings among U.S. college students where "being Asian" was the best predictor of never having kissed (see Table 2), and East-Asian men being perceived as less masculine, least preferred by women in online dating, and East Asian women engaging the most in outmarriage possibly because their neoteny is a super stimulus to Whites. East Asian males also have a slower life history speed (more k-selected) are physically weaker/shorter, hence they may lose out in dominance competitions. Being more k-selected, East Asians may be more sensitive to evolutionary mismatches such as the absence of arranged marriage women's unusual high-status role, overpopulation, or even the rise of mutations (see behavioral sink). See also ricecel.
As the graphs above suggests, in the U.S. male Asians are affected the most by inceldom, which can presumably partly be attributed to their slower life history. Blacks being less sexless, but also less in relationships compared to Whites may also be explained by racial differences in life history speed, so the graphs above do not contradict each other. E.g. Blacks also have much higher rates of nonmarital births.
|Reddit, U.S, Pew Research||Reddit, /r/Braincels 2019|
N = 288
N = 165
N = 453
N = 1,267
N = 632
|Hispanic||15||12||18.0||14.2||5.7 (Latino)||7.0 (Latino)|
(%, 95% CI)
|European American||330||7 (4.2-9.8)|
Young incels in the U.S.
Teenage sexual activity in the U.S. has declined a lot in the past decades such that the majority of graduates has possibly never dated by 2020. This decline is accompanied by a decline in employment, driver's license ownership and alcohol consume. The downward trend was larger for Blacks than for Whites in terms of "teen pregnancies", "sexually active" and "ever had sex" (respectively -68%, -14%, -19% for Whites and -76%, -43%, -41% for Blacks), however with Blacks having substantially more sex before and after the decline. The few males who do have sex bragging about it might cause the misconception among many incels that few men hoard all the women. In truth, females also have less sex.
Adult incels in the U.S.
Rise in male sexlessness and singledom
Sexless men between 18 and 30 are on the rise according to the Washington Post using data from the U.S. nationally representative General Social Survey (GSS). 28% of men did not have sex in the past year, a trend that appears to have started around 2000-2005. This is accompanied by a trend towards later marriage that started a few years earlier. Data from NHANES, NSFG and GSS together suggest around 12% of 22-35 year olds had no sex in the past year (see graph on the right). GSS data also shows that among today's 18 to 34 year olds, 51% have no stable partner, up from 35% in 1986. Further, roughly 30% of millennials are often or always lonely and 22% have no friends which likely overlaps inceldom because a sex partner would count as companionship or a friend. Indeed, 50% of incels.co users report having no friends.
The 95% confidence interval for men who did not have sex in the past year aged 18-30 is 20%-34% (N = 137). Combining data from 2016 and 2018, one finds an estimate of 24% (N = 311, 95% CI: 19%, 29%). Most sexless males are likely incels as evidenced by:
- A study by Poortman and Liebroer that found that only roughly 4% of singles preferred their singlehood over being in a relationship.
- Only 1% of the population self-identifies as asexual.
- Sex is regarded as the most satisfying and joyous experience and ~70% of men report "sex is essential to feeling good about oneself".
- Such reports are likely subject to social desirability bias, meaning men might not say they need sex to avoid violating sexual modesty norms and being perceived as shallow and sex-driven.
Assuming strong social desirability bias, one can assume only very few of the sexless are volcels, so there were likely around 15% to 30% millennial male incels in 2018, possibly more as of 2020, though around a third of this is 18-20 year olds. With 57 million millennial males, this amounts to 8-17 million male millennial incels, and 2-3 as many in an unstable or no relationship, pointing to a substantial amount of sexually frustrated males.
More sexless men than women
|Year||Men (N, 95% CI)||Women (N, 95% CI)|
|1990-2006||13.4% (2013, 11.9%, 14.9%)||11.5% (2489, 10.3%, 12.8%)|
|2012-2018||20.8% (682, 17.7%, 23.8%)||14.5% (742, 12.0%, 17.0%)|
|z = 4.6, p < .00001||z = 2.2, p < .03|
In GSS data from 2018, more male than female millennials had no sex in the past year (28% vs 18%), but this difference is not statistically significant. However, combining survey years 2016 and 2018, one does find a significant difference for millennials (24% vs 17%, X² = 4.6, p = 0.03). Including year 2014, it becomes more significant (21% vs 15%, X² = 6.3, p = 0.01). What is worse, women are known to downplay their partner counts, so sexlessness among women is possibly lower than what they report. Including older populations, this sex difference vanishes somewhat as older men remarry more often, leaving behind single mothers. The higher sexlessness among men aged 18-25 is likely mainly caused by women getting into relationships in their prime years, preferring men slightly older than themselves. Regardless of the cause, this undeniably means men's sexual needs are less likely met in this age bracket.
Sexlessness among young adults is not only higher for men, but sexlessness has also risen more for men (see this table). Men experienced a greater decline (-7% vs -3%). This agrees with other findings of a rise of sexual inequality. The most sexually active men have more sex than ever, which may indicate a slight rise in open relationships, men engaging in 'casual sex' with a quick succession of sex partners, possibly facilitated by online dating, serial monogamy and other forms of de facto polygamy, accompanied by a rise in acceptance of polygamy.
Conclusion: Young people generally have less sex and men even less. Also few people have more sex at the same time, without resulting in a net increase though. But the largest changes are less stable relationships and later marriage for both sexes rather than alpha males hoarding all women. Humans being a moderately polygamous species, the tendency that men are more likely sexless can be observed across the world as summarized below and also in terms of reproductive success, and is likely a result of women's higher parental investment.
Brian Gilmartin in the 1980s estimated that 1.5% of all American men experience involuntary celibacy, estimating them at 4.7 million people. A 2012 report by The Centers for Disease Control claimed that within the past year roughly 6% of men ages 25 to 44 have not had any sexual partners. The Washington Post correlated this figure within inceldom; thus making roughly 6% of that age group virginal involuntary celibates (per Washington Post). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics, sexlessness has increased among the young between 2002 and 2006/2008. 27% of 15-24 year old men have never had any form of sex, up from 22 percent in 2002, and 29% of females in that age bracket have never had sex, also up from 22 percent in 2002.
Sexual frustration is a majoritarian issue
With increasing sexlessness and steady partnerships almost cut in half for those between 18-35, one can see that inceldom issues are approaching a majoritarian issue. With 51% of young adults without a partner could indicate that the amount of people sympathetic to incels due to their own situation may now be a majority of young adults.
Sexlessness is worse for men
In addition to the greater prevalence of male inceldom, men may face more negative consequences, e.g. because they have a higher sex drive. Also, in one study, male students had sex gained social status, whereas female students lost peer popularity the more sex they had. Also, women find men who have sex more attractive. Men also more often report having sex is essential to feeling good about oneself (d ≈ 0.25).
Some findings suggest single men are more prone to depressive symptoms, but other findings suggest that poor mating performance is related with equally lower well-being for both sexes (see adverse effects of inceldom). Yet, the difference in libido and coyness should imply that women, but not men, can get sex easily if they wanted. Women exhibit also more childish neuroticism overall which should maybe not be taken as seriously as men's suffering and isolation.
Some feminists have claimed the comparison in acceptance to invitations to sex is not a fair measure of how much women suffer from sexlessness because women need to know the men first to be safe. However, there is evidence that women do engage in very adventurous sex with no hope for reciprocity or investment on part of the man, namely if the man has exceptionally high status and/or is exceptionally good looking (sexy sons hypothesis) and even abusive/violent men (hybristophilia). Van Halen had sex tents set up at his performances. This proves women do engage sometimes in adventurous, unsafe sex, therefore most femlcels are believed to be volcels. Feminists have a point in that women have more parental investment, but phenomena like sex tents and sexy sons suggest women exploit their ability to choose from many men somewhat, so their inceldom seems more self-inflicted. Women are naturally oblivious to these facts.
Women decide over celibacy rates
Cohen and Shotland (1996) found a correlation between when people thought sex should start in a given relationship and when they actually began having sex, which was low for men (r = .19, n.s.), but very high for women (r = .88, p < .01), meaning only women decide when sex occurs.
Further, in a 1989 peer-reviewed study that took place at Florida State University, 75% of men accepted random sex-invitations from random real-life women, whereas 0% of women accepted such offers. This combats the notion that men have choice in casual sex matters when they are not high-status, due to 0% of women accepting random-sex no-strings offers in a setting high in casual sex. That men have no choice in casual sex matters also makes overall celibacy rates seem to be mostly a product of women's choices than mens. The Florida study also showed both genders accept dates at a similar rate. That more women accept dates rather than direct-sex invitations suggest they use dates as a vetting mechanism, whereas men less so.
There have been attempts to replicate this study in practice or theory, however all appear to have been non-naturalistic studies, unlike Hatfield and Clark, making them ultimately not interesting. They also vary in conclusions. There is agreement with Hatfield and Clark, while others point out the original study was about low-information sex invitations, or invitations where the man only disclosed they were human, or, "children of God", so to speak. I.e. they also hypothesize women will only accept casual sex invitations after vetting the social status or "sexual skill" of men, whereas men accept regardless, making women ultimately the sexual selectors. Baumeister summarized on the sex difference in sex drive: "Given the mismatch between men's and women's desires, most men are doomed to experience chronic sexual frustration. […] They are doomed to be horny." These results strongly imply women are the gatekeepers of sex and hence decide over celibacy rates.
Have women become sluttier?
Contrary to widespread impression, women do not appear to have become sluttier in terms of number of sex partners in the last two decades. There was a sharp rise in the number of sex partners and extramarital sex between the 1920 and 1970-born cohorts, but it remained stable thereafter. More recently, there is rather a trend toward sexlessness in many developed countries.
Nonetheless, a minority of women (e.g. around 21.9% of female Tinder users) does seem to have lots of sex and can get it substantially more easily than men. A minority of men also has plenty of sex, perhaps more than ever before. So, even though people have overall less sex, a minority may have more.
The impression of increased sluttiness may also come from the rise of self-sexualization (e.g. in online media, but also in the public) which appears to be driven by female intra-sexual competition in hypergamy and economic uncertainty/inequality, i.e. women self-sexualizing themselves to get attention from the more and more rare economically advantaged men. Girls also seem to be less well behaved, and more often tattooed possibly as a consequence of feminism, which may also drive the impressions of intensified sluttiness, even though sexlessness is on the rise.
The Hunter Research Foundation Centre ran a sex life survey in October 2012 to November 2013, with over 20,000 men and women participating. It found fairly balanced adult virginity rates for people in their 20s. But above 30, there were around twice as many male adult virgins (3.5% vs 1.5%). Another survey found the highest number of adult virgins over the age of 31 (male and female combined) was in Melbourne with almost 4% virgins.
China (as well as India) have some of the largest surplus of males and hence a huge number of male incels which is thought to even aggravate in the coming decades and is thought to become a substantial threat to social stability. There are now an excess of 70 million males in China and India. The Washington Post produced an article with impressive visualizations of the problem.
According to Project SEXUS 2017/2018, among 25-34 year olds, 5% of men compared to 3% of women, never had sex since they were 15 (N = 3495, p = 0.0025), however for older groups there were no sex differences.
In Finland, rates of sexlessness and masturbation have substantially increased in recent years, affecting especially men aged 30-40. Further, the number of young men having more than two sex partners decreased for men, but remained stable for women (see the figure on the right). For more figures and discussion of the study, see the scientific blackpill and this forum thread.
Sexlessness is on the rise in France as well. For men under thirty, a decrease in the mean sex partners was seen from 10.4 in 1992 and 7.7 in 2006 (p < 0.00001), but for women in the same age group there was no change. The number of lifetime reported sexual partners for all ages was fairly stable in the recent 50 years (11.8 in 1970, 11.0 in 1992, and 11.6 in 2006). For women, mean lifetime number of partners increased from (1.8 in 1970, 3.3 in 1992, 4.4 in 2006), which may be related to women lying less about their number of partners. That women lie about this is evident as women should have just as many lifetime sex partners as men.
In Germany, incels are called Absolute Beginners, or ABs. There are no comparable data to the GSS or NFSG with variables about virginity or sexlessness. Some sources claim inceldom affects twice as many males as females with 10 percent and 5 percent respectively, however the exact source of this claim is unknown. Data from 2008 suggested that among 18-30 year olds, 60.4% of men and 35.6% of women were singles. Interestingly, these figures are similar to GSS in 2018 as discussed above. Even though men might bloom later, this points to substantial gynocentrism in that women in their twenties have their sexual basic needs more likely met. A survey showed that the rate of sexless women aged 18-91 increased from 33% to 38% between 2005 and 2016, which likely means it has increased by at least a much for males, and may veil a substantial increase for the younger generations due the broad age range of the sample.
A survey from 2008 by „Neon“ estimated the number of ABs aged 20-35 to be 4% of women and 6% of men. Much higher numbers than this were found for student ABs in 1996. Among students groups aged 18-30, 7.5% of women but 13.7% of men never had sex. Among ages 28-30, 8.4% of men never had sex, but only 2% of women (p = 0.003). In 2000, sex researcher Kurt Starke found 10% of male university students under 29 were virgins ("Absolute Beginners"). Psychotherapist Poschenrieder claims to have received roughly 150 counseling requests from Absolute Beginners. Some sex researchers have claimed that Absolute Beginners are not rare, and sex columnist Caroline Fux said that AB's are common.
The emergence of ABs has been blamed on various factors including a skewed sex ratio, such as a surplus of women or a surplus of men in particular regions. According to Jakob Pastötter, President of the German Society for Social Science Research, the phenomenon of the Absolute Beginner is a bit more prevalent among those with demisexuality (a sexual orientation characterized by only experiencing sexual attraction after making a strong emotional connection with a specific person), i.e. people with a slow life history. In 2017, sex consultant Sarah Nerb claimed 2-3% of adults in Germany are Absolute Beginners.
ABs come from a wide range of professional backgrounds, and they vary in their physical appearance (ABs are not only physically ugly people) which may serve as some anecdotal evidence against the notion that inceldom is primarily caused by lookism, but these claims remain somewhat dubious as it could have been selection bias of the sort that only good looking people seek help from female sex therapists and are inclined to participate in a TV show.
Due to a surplus of young men they suffer higher rates of inceldom than women. Whereas as women usually lose their virginity during their teens, men are more likely to lose it in their twenties. Statistics also show that the rates of inceldom for men are higher in the south of India than the north. Men in India have the least sex of all countries.
Japan has among the highest rates of incels and has had them for quite a while. As of 2019, 10% of 30 year olds have no sexual experience. 24.6% of 18-39 year old women have no heterosexual experience, up from 21.7% in 1992. For men it increased from 20% to 25.8%. Sex differences are remarkably small. In 2016, a government survey found evidence of 541,000 hikikomori living in a country of 127 million people. Unsurprisingly and according to a Durex survey from 2009, Japan was along with China the least sexually satisfied nation, with just 24% being satisfied with their sex lives compared to a global average of 44.12±7.68. The survey by Durex has been criticized for potentially biased sampling, but a similar result was found by a Japanese sex toy company in 2019 (though with China being much more satisfied).
In a survey from 2017, among 25-39 year olds, 8% (N = 427) of men but only 4% (N = 687) of women never had sex which is significantly different (Chi² = 8.053, p = 0.0045). Among 18-24 year olds, it was 25% (N = 4934) of men and 19% (N = 8216) of women, also significantly different (Chi² = 66.3, p < 0.0001).
One Norwegian study showed "the proportion of childless men (at age 40 years) has increased rapidly for Norwegian male cohorts from 1940 to 1970 (from 15% to 25%). For women, it has only increased marginally (from 10% to 13%)" which points to serial monogamy. Personality traits have also become increasingly important for male fertility. As in the other countries, the result points to a greater prevalence of male incels than female incels. In a survey conducted by Durex in 2006, inhabitants of the Scandinavian countries were the most likely to state they wanted more sex. 52-53% wanted more sex vs a global average 36.12±8.33.
The rate of U.K. incels has also risen considerably. Among 26-year-old millennials (born 1989-1990), i.e. in 2016, 12.5% had no sexual experience, but in previous generations it was only 5% at the same age. In a survey by YouGov from 2019, around 18% of men said they had no close friends. Only 12% of women said the same.
- This figure was computed by arbitrarily subtracting a volcel rate among the sexless of ~25% for the lower bound and ~15% for the upper bound of the 2018 confidence interval and then rounding to the next multiple of 5 to get nice figures.
Limitations: For one, singles who reported to prefer their singlehood in Poortman & Liebroer could be having casual sex otherwise. Also, men who see prostitutes have sex, but may still count as incels. Conversely, men in long-distance relationships, religious men or very career-focused men might voluntarily forgo sex, hence might rather count as volcels. On the other hand, one could question whether systemic circumstances pressure men into these situations, which could then count as involuntary. Today, people might involuntarily marry much later as a consequence of cultural, economic and environmentalist pressures forcing them to do so. Indeed, career-focused singles tend to report they focus on their career because they are single rather than vice-versa (Source: https://www.springer.com/de/book/9783658059231)
- https://incels.wiki/w/Scientific_Blackpill#Women_get_2-3_times_as_many_casual_sexual_relationships_from_Tinder_than_men%7Cbecome more unequally distributed
- Brown, G.R., Laland, K.N. and Mulder, M.B. 2009. Bateman's principles and human sex roles. [FullText]
- Baumeister & Tice, 2001
- Blake KR, Bastian B, Denson TF, Grosjean P and Brooks RC. 2018. Income inequality not gender inequality positively covaries with female sexualization on social media. [Abstract]
- Dytham S. 2018. The role of popular girls in bullying and intimidating boys and other popular girls in secondary school. [Abstract]
- Heiratsmarkt und Marriage Squeeze. Analysen zur Veränderung von Heiratsgelegenheiten in der Bundesrepublik, Universität Heidelberg, Abgerufen am 1, September 2014
- Monika Büchner: Für die Liebe ist es nie zu spät: Absolute Beginner – wenn Sie das erste Mal noch vor sich haben. J. Kamphausen, Bielefeld 2016, S. 30, S. 47.