Demographics of inceldom
This article discusses the demographics of inceldom. It sheds light on the prevalence and rising trends of inceldom, and more broadly, of sexual frustration, unstable relationships and loneliness for both sexes, which is accompanied by a trend towards later or no marriage, i.e. a decline in marriage traditions, as well as declining engagement in risky behavior and declining independence from the parents (see also causes of inceldom).
Status[edit | edit source]
Incels have diverse backgrounds regarding socioeconomic status and education status. A survey from incels.co suggests 59% of incels are 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 more often adult virgins compared to others of similar age, and further supports the notion that incels have diverse socioeconomic backgrounds. The hard university courses are more affected more by inceldom (see IQ and sexual success). Among U.K. university students surveyed in 2021, only a third have had an intimate relationship at university. Further, a quarter of freshmen has never kissed anyone and 43% have never had sex. In high school, each extra IQ point above average increases chances of male virginity by about 3%, and 35% of MIT grad students have never had sex, compared to only 20% of average nineteen year old men.
Geographics[edit | edit source]
Incels can in in principle be found in any country as evidenced by the country statistics below. China and India may have the largest shares of male incels as both of these countries have a surplus of young males. In the most popular incel communities such as incels.co, 50% of the users come from the U.S., 38% from Europe and the other 22% are made up by users from Central/South America, Oceana and Asia.
Race[edit | edit source]
Incel forums are often stereotyped as "angry White male" communities, however large polls on incels.co and Braincels showed that only around half of their userbase are/were White. A peer-reviewed study also came to the conclusion that incel forums 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 is surprising as Asian males earn 117% of what White men earn, but this finding 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 less masculine, least preferred by women in online dating, and East Asian women engaging the most in outmarriage possibly also 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 more often be volcels, but they also 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 also behavioral sink, hikikomori, mismatchcel and ricecel.
The graphs above for the overall U.S. population also point to a high rate of male Asian incels. Blacks having more sex, but fewer relationships compared to Whites may also be explained by racial differences in life history speed, so the graphs do not necessarily contradict each other. E.g. Blacks also have much higher rates of nonmarital births. As Blacks have a faster life history, implying a higher sex drive, they probably feel distressed by inceldom sooner.
|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.[edit | edit source]
Teenage sexual activity in the U.S. has declined a lot in the past decades such that the majority of high school graduates has possibly never dated by 2021 and youngcel rates have tripled since 1980. This decline is accompanied by a decline in employment, driver's license ownership and alcohol consumption. 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.
Considering that, at the peak in 1985 only 15% did not date by 12th grade, one can assume that that at least 50% - 15% = 35% of the young would have dated if they could and hence could be considered youngcels, however likely fewer actually suffer from their inceldom as historically it was not uncommon for people to only marry and start having sex in their mid-twenties with Boomers and Gen Xers having been outliers with regards how early they married (see also this section).
Interestingly, in Australia, there was a decline in alcohol consumption while sexual activity remained relatively stable, suggesting the decline in sexual behavior among U.S. adolescents is not primarily due to higher risk-aversion. Some of the decline in teen pregnancies is likely explained by greater use of contraception.
Adult incels in the U.S.[edit | edit source]
Rise in male sexlessness and singledom[edit | edit source]
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 and rising rate of young men living with their parents. 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). This trend can be traced back to 1930-born cohorts, is not attributable to increased pornography use or working hours and is present in both the married and unmarried. 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 with 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.
- About half of adult virgins in their late 20s and early 30s report they do not feel attracted to the opposite sex, which counts as volceldom, however virginity is rare at this age, agreeing with the 1% figure for asexuals mentioned above.
- Only 11% of university students are volcels, even though university students tend to be slow life history strategists.
Assuming some 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 2021, 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[edit | edit source]
|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). Ueda (2020) found similar trends in sexual inactivity comparing 2008 and 2018. Among men aged 25 to 34 it was 7.0% vs 14.1% (aOR for trend, 1.23; 95% CI, 1.07-1.42) and for women 7.0% vs 12.6% (aOR for trend, 1.17; 95% CI, 1.01-1.35).
A longitudinal survey on U.S. American families conducted by the University of Michigan between 2007 and 2017 showed that only 24% of men and 22% of women had casual sex in the last month the surveys were conducted, compared to 38% and 31% when they started. The study's sample was comprised of 2,000 non-married American men and women between the ages of 18 and 23.
Women are, however, 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 means there are more male incels in this age bracket.
Sexlessness among young adults is not only higher for men, but sexlessness has also risen more for men (see 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[edit | edit source]
Young people generally have less sex and men even slightly less. Also, a minority has more sex at the same time, without causing an overall increase though. But the largest changes are less stable relationships and later marriage for both sexes rather than alpha males hoarding all women. Still, a small minority of young people is having plenty of sex and seems to increasingly engage in polygynous mating styles among them. With 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.
Other estimates[edit | edit source]
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.
Commentary[edit | edit source]
Sexual frustration is a majoritarian issue[edit | edit source]
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[edit | edit source]
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 who had hetronormative sex gained social status among both males and females, whereas female students lost peer popularity the more sex they had. The male virgin is a loser, whereas the female virgin is highly desirable among men as that assures paternity. Another study has shown women find men who are in relationships more attractive than those who are not. Men also slightly more often report having sex is essential to feeling good about oneself (d ≈ 0.25). Among singletons, women are also more likely to report they 'prefer to remain single' than men do.
Some findings suggest men with poor mating performance 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 a 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[edit | edit source]
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?[edit | edit source]
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, in fact, in a 2018 U.S. study, among a minority of people who live an active, uncommitted dating life, heterosexual men met an average of 2.4 partners for dating or sex in the past 12 months whereas that figure was 5.1 partners for women. A minority of men also has plenty of sex, perhaps more than ever before. So, even though people have overall less sex, a minority appears to 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. Such behavior may be disturbing for males due to possible adapted behavior for paternity assurance, but it also may cause a feeling of envy and missed sexual opportunities in males, especially since men experience more sexual regret. This may be even harmful for females themselves as it may incite gossip among them.
In data from Finland (see the Finland section), women have become twice as likely to not have been in love with their first sex partner (from 82% down to nearly 39%) over the course of over 80 years, whereas men's answers remained unchanged around 50%. This may reflect that young women more often are promiscuous like men, and just engage in sex for near-term gratification. But a number of other explanations are conceivable, e.g. that women's love may require a resource dependence. A change in promiscuous behavior, however, is also evidenced by later-born women also more readily say they'd be willing to have sex without being in love (up from 20% to around 80%), also in the Finnish data.
Are late marriage and reproduction unnatural?[edit | edit source]
Historical data on age of marriage and reproduction suggests that late first marriages and late reproduction were not unheard of in history, especially in k-selected societies such as Northwest Europe, with both sexes commonly only marrying in their mid-20s or early 30s. In the 19th century U.S., even though divorces were rare and traditional gender roles were strict, around 70% of men below age 25 were unmarried. Evidence from Canada, the U.S., Sweden, Denmark and Germany suggest the boomer generation (Gen X in Europe) was an outlier with particularly early marriages and reproduction. In Denmark, the current mean age at first birth of 29 is comparable to the 1850s. In England, the mean age at first marriage used to be considerably lower before boomers. In the 17th to 19th century, women married about five years earlier compared to today's marriages (25 v 30). In the same data, delay of marriage and fertility rates roughly track economic trends. In times of economic hardship in the mid 17th century, English women married as late as 27, not far from today's figure. Genetic life history speed, is however not the only factor as marriages have been fairly early in ancient China. Overall, however there is a correlation as Africa has particular early marriages.
This suggests, for k-selected races, current late marriage practices are not a strong evolutionary mismatch, so the psychological burden of inceldom may rather lie in the fear of missing out and sexual envy provoked by a highly promiscuous minority and women being allowed to dress like whores, and potentially other evolutionary mismatches such as the lack of gender segregation, a lack of guidance and motivation toward reproduction and marriage, an emphasis on sexual promiscuity and freedom conflicting with adaptations for arranged marriage, as well as increasing policing of human sexual behavior potentially creating approach anxiety. However, for more r-selected groups living in these societies marriage and reproduction as late does likely pose a substantial mismatch, which may explain the disproportional prevalence of non-Whites among incels. The graph on the right suggests that this evolutionary mismatch, to the extent it exists, affects women more than men.
Other countries[edit | edit source]
Australia[edit | edit source]
In 2019 Australia's national broadcaster, the ABC, in conjunction with the University of Melbourne and the private polling company Vox Pop Labs conducted a large survey into the lifestyles, health, political beliefs, values and economic status of Australians. They found that 40% of Australians polled aged 18-24 reported 'never' having sex and 8% reported no sex in the last year, with 16% 'preferring not to say'. The corresponding figures for those aged 25-29 were 21% reporting 'never' having sex, 7% reporting having it less than once a year, with 5% of respondents refusing to answer the question.
More men in the 18-29 age range reported being sexless than women in the corresponding age bracket, with this gender divide in sexlessness being most pronounced among those aged 25-29, with 28% of men that age being sexless in the last year or ever compared to 16% of women. The gender gap in sexlessness in the previous year in the 30-39 age bracket was tiny (if this gap is even statistically significant, there were also more female virgins than men in this age bracket) and women above that age were more likely to be sexless in the last year than men. This data seems to indicate that women in the 25-29 age bracket in Australia are likely disproportionately either dating older men (as these are the men that are the most sexually active) or engaging in informal polygynous relationships with males of their own age bracket, with little evidence of a severe gender skew in the sexlessness in other age brackets.
In contrast to other data from countries like the US, and despite the substantial amount of sexless young people in Australia, there is not much evidence of large secular increases in sexlessness rates among Australian youth. While the sexual frequency among married or partnered individuals did decrease, the mean sexual frequency among unpartnered individuals remained stable and the self-reported age of sexual debut (among those who have sex) seemingly changed little over the decades following a sharp decrease subsequent to the sexual revolution. There is also evidence that the likelihood of engaging in penetrative sex among Year 12 students (generally aged 17-18) has been increasing steadily since the early 90s, in contrast to data from the United States, however some of the increase may have been due a changing recruitment strategy. Notably, teenage sexual behavior remained stable despite lower engagement in risky behavior such as alcohol consumption, suggesting the decline in sexual behavior among U.S. adolescents is not primarily due to higher risk-aversion. The same argument applies to drivers license ownership.
However, there is some evidence of slightly greater male sexlessness in this age bracket vis-a-vis women (the actual rate has remained fairly steady across this period), possibly indicating a small shift towards a more polygynous mating style among younger people, or perhaps it is simply evidence of increasing female promiscuity (due to the female tendency to prefer slightly older men, so college-age men in this instance, who would not be represented in this diachronic analysis) as this trend does not appear to be very pronounced.
As Australia lacks extensive, representative, annual surveys into the sexual behavior of the population, any population-level trends towards increasing sexlessness are hard to discern, though there does seem to some evidence for a recent increase in sexlessness that is particularly pronounced among men in their 20s when one compares the chronic sexlessness figures in the ABC survey and the figures reported in the second Australian Study of Health and Relationships, which reported a virginity rate of 10% men in their 20s compared to the figures from the ABC survey which found 40% of men aged 19-24 and 21% of men aged 25-29 reported they 'never' had sex.
Thus, if there is a trend towards greater sexlessness among Australians, it seems this trend is isolated to those older than 18, seemingly being heavily concentrated in the 18-29 age bracket for men. The high level of sexlessness among Australia youth seems to indicate a general slowing in life history speed, with people increasingly deferring sex and reproduction beyond their 20s, leaving many men in their late teens and 20s completely sexless. In contrast, sexlessness sharply decreases in the mid-20s onwards among women, likely as they increasingly settle down into (often serially) monogamous relationships, as many men of the same age bracket are still sexless, perhaps due to female economic hypergamy related choosiness and other factors. Similar to the trends found in other developed nations, there is a reasonably large gender gap (favoring women) in terms of the proportion of the population who has attained a Bachelor's degree or above, particularly among the younger generation, which may partially explain male sexlessness in these age brackets, as women have a general sexual preference for men with an equivalent or higher level of education than themselves, at least in regards to long-term relationships. However, it is important to note that rates of male social withdrawal and underemployment do not seem particularly pronounced in Australia compared to other countries.
On the city level, a survey conducted in 2016 by the lifestyle magazine Body and Soul found the highest number of adult virgins over the age of 31 (male and female combined) was in Melbourne with almost 4% of the population over 31 being virgins. In this survey, 5% of people of both sexes surveyed nationwide reported losing their virginity after the age of 25. No details about the general methodology and any in-depth information pertaining to the characteristics of the respondents to this survey were provided. As the survey sample appears entirely comprised of readers of a lifestyle magazine that is included as an insert with several News Corporation newspapers (with newspaper readers trending towards being older than the median age) and is also possibly biased towards those who are sexually experienced due to the content of the survey, it is likely that those surveyed are not a representative sample of the Australian population.
China[edit | edit source]
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.
Denmark[edit | edit source]
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.
Finland[edit | edit source]
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.
As a very liberal country, Finland may serve as a model of liberal subcultures in other Western countries.
France[edit | edit source]
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.
Germany[edit | edit source]
In Germany, incels are called Absolute Beginners, or ABs. Unlike the U.S., Germany has no regular social surveys like the GSS or NFSG with variables about sexuality. 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 this may be explained by men "blooming later", this suggests women in their twenties have their sexual basic needs much 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. Within just five years, between 2015 and 2020, the share of adults who have sex at least once a month has declined from 56% to 52%. Similarly to the U.S., among German adolescents and young adults there is a strong decline in drivers license ownership, alcohol consumption and pregnancies, which may point to similar trends in sexlessness, though in Australia, trends in alcohol consumption and adolescent sexual behavior were not linked (see the Australia section).
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 student 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). Extrapolating the age range to 20-35 gives 14.2% and 7.2% respectively, pointing to a slower life history among academics and/or greater prevalence of feminism and absence of enforced monogamy, e.g. due to environmentalism. 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.
India[edit | edit source]
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.
Italy[edit | edit source]
Italy has some of the lowest marriage rates of only 3.20 marriages per 1,000 inhabitants per year, which is less than half compared to the U.S. (6.50) and the lowest marriage rate among OECD countries. This likely owes to a particularly high median age in Italy, but it is also somewhat lower than Germany (4.90) which has a similarly old population. The Italian incelosphere is relatively prominent pointing to a relatively large share of the populating facing mating difficulties. As in other Western countries, the Italian youth has substantially been indoctrinated by feminist doctrine between 2000 and 2017, though the double standard (i.e. that men are admitted more promiscuity than men) remains intact. One informal survey suggests Italian adults have on average slightly more sex than the world's average.
Japan[edit | edit source]
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). Another study found between 1992 and 2015, the age-standardized proportion of 18-39-year-old Japanese adults who were single had increased, from 27.4 to 40.7% among women and from 40.3 to 50.8% among men.
Netherlands[edit | edit source]
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).
Norway[edit | edit source]
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.
Korea, Republic of[edit | edit source]
In 2021 the results of an online survey examining the frequency and engagement with various types of sexual behaviors on behalf of South Korean men and women was published in the World Journal of Men's Health (Ahn et al., 2021). The data used in the consequent study was derived from a representative sample of Korean men and women aged between 18 and sixty-nine.
The key findings in regards to the prevalence of the incel problem in the country are:
- More men than women reported sexual experience in all age brackets but the youngest (aged 18-19). However, as the sample size for the youngest age bracket was small, it is unknown if this difference is statistically significant. Among men in their 20s, around 25% were virgins (compared to around 35% of women in this age bracket). Virginity rates steadily decreased with age among men, with around 4% of men in their 30s still reporting a lack of sexual experience, compared to around 13% of women in their 30s.
- Among men of low education levels (high school education or less) or in the lowest income bracket (900 USD or less a month), the aforementioned sex difference in sexual experience was reversed, with more women in these education and income brackets reporting prior sexual experience.
- In terms of the reported engagement in sexual activity in the last year (among those with sexual experience), women in the age bracket of 18-39 were more likely to report having had a sexual partner in the previous year than men in these age brackets. It is unclear if the sex difference found here is significant for the 18-19 age bracket as the sample size is too low to detect a significant effect. Still, such a sex gap would be concordant with the sex differences found for the younger age brackets if it would prove to be evident with a larger sample size.
- The biggest sex gap found (in terms of being currently sexually active) was in the 20-29 age bracket, with 58.8% of these men reporting sexual activity in the last 12 months compared to 78.6% of the women of this age.
- Women of all age brackets reported substantially less engagement in casual sexual activities than men. This sex discrepancy in reporting engagement in promiscuous sexual activity is likely due to a mix of factors.
Firstly, in a society with highly conservative attitudes to extra-martial sexual behaviors engaged in by women, such as South Korea, women are very likely to downplay their engagement in casual sexual activity, even in anonymous surveys.
Secondly, many men may be leading women on by promising investment while they, but not the women in question, consider the relationship to be casual in nature ('friends with benefits').
Thirdly, although prostitution is illegal in South Korea, the country apparently has a large sex trade, with 20 percent of men aged between 20-64 reportedly visiting prostitutes up to 4.5 times a month on average. It is estimated that sex work contributes a greater portion of the GDP in South Korea than the agricultural sector (ibid). In light of the above information, it is likely that a lot of the casual sexual encounters reported by men in this survey were with prostitutes.
The above data indicate that involuntary celibacy is mainly a problem found among younger men in South Korea, likely due to increases in the age of first marriage and widespread social disengagement driven by mental health issues, impoverishment, and a highly competitive society and economic system. South Korea's very competitive school system and society likely plays a substantial role in driven these phenomena, with men who cannot compete in such a large scale, advanced, and hyper demanding economy dropping out at an early age. In support of this, South Korea's strict education system does seem to play a large role in that countries high suicide rate. The fact that involuntary celibacy (among males) is concentrated in younger men may also be attributable to the fact that the sex gap in educational level has been rapidly shrinking or even reversing in South Korea, like in most other advanced economies.
Several convergent threads of evidence in this study do indicate that female economic and status hypergamy or at least homogamy is a strong driver of involuntary celibacy in the ROK (together with a high age at first marriage), even compared with the situation in the other countries listed in this article. As women seem to have a strong sexual preference for higher-status and financially provident men (especially when it comes to long-term relationships, and it does seem from this study that many women are still waiting for marriage to engage in sex in the ROK), a substantial portion of Korean men are likely falling below the minimum threshold of either that women generally require in their male partners for either trait, especially vis-à-vis women's increasing status in these realms. This and the fact that men greatly sexually prefer younger women likely play a role in driving male involuntary celibacy in the ROK. A large part of the sex gap in sex rates by age is likely explicable by Korean women marrying older men. Thus the competition among men for young fertile women in this country is most likely extremely intense, leaving young men who are uncompetitive in the dating market without a female partner.
Turkey[edit | edit source]
Data on the prevalence of involuntary celibacy in Turkey is hard to come by, with there being no national representative surveys that examine sexual issues. Much research into proxy measures, such as sexual frequency, level of sexual experience, etc., is generally restricted to samples drawn from Turkey's Mediterranean and Asia Minor regions. These regions are less socially conservative in comparison to the Anatolian Islamic heartland of that nation. Nevertheless, we can extract from these surveys some very rough measures of the level of involuntary celibacy in certain regions and specific demographic cohorts in this country. A brief list of some of the key findings of these surveys as they pertain to involuntary celibacy follows:
- A questionnaire administered to university students aged 20-25 in the coastal town of Izmir, located in the Asia Minor region of Turkey on the Aegean sea, found that 61.2% of males had reported engaging in any kind of sexual intercourse (vaginal, anal, or oral) compared to 18.3% of females (Aras et al. 2007).
These figures were comparable to earlier findings, with the pooled average rate of sexual engagement in prior surveys conducted on Turkish university students (range 33%-68% for males and 4.2% to 45% for females). Regarding the level of sexual engagement, the highest figures were found in a sample of students from Istanbul University for both sexes (though the male sample was also mixed with students from Western Anatolia).
However, most of the men in this particular sample had reported using prostitutes. In contrast, only 28% of sexually active males in Aras et al.'s sample stated their first sexual partner was a sex worker.
- A more recent sexual survey on Turkish university students (mean age 20.79 ± 1.9) conducted in 2020 by Nazik et al. on students from "a university in the Mediterranian region of Turkey" found a roughly equal level of engagement in romantic relationships among the sexes, with 51% of the women reporting having previous "had a partner" as compared to 55% of the men.
However, it was noted that actual engagement in the various kinds of sexual activity reported was higher among the females in the sample. This higher engagement in sexual activity among the women was chiefly limited to oral and anal sex.
This finding provides some credence to the idea of women in conservative Islamic countries frequently engaging in non-vaginal sexual intercourse in the belief that this will prevent their future husband from knowing of their pre-marital sexual behavior. It is important to note that total levels of engagement in sexual intercourse were low for both sexes, though, compared to university samples from other countries.
The findings of these studies suggest Turkey is still a country where pre-marital sex is relatively rare and frowned upon, especially among women. However, the result of the more recent survey suggests female promiscuity may be on the rise in Turkey (at least among urban elites and the middle class). These findings also indicate that the demographic transition is well underway in Turkey, with the fertility ratio in Turkey steadily declining (though still around replacement level), age of first marriage increasing, and with a higher and still growing level of education and engagement in the workforce among women, together with decreases in the gross marriage rate. These data points suggest very high incel rates among Turkish men in their 20s, with the mean age of first marriage in Turkey for men being 27.9 for men and 25 for women as of 2019. What pre-marital sexual relationships that do exist generally seem surreptitious in nature (particularly among women) or the result of engagement with sex workers among males, apart from those that take place in particularly socially liberal circles, perhaps.
The gross marriage rate in Turkey seems quite high compared to other OECD countries, roughly as high as the United States with a crude marriage rate of 7 per 1,000 as of 2019, a rate that has subsequently declined in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The crude marriage rate in Turkey seems to be on a downward trend in general, according to figures compiled by the Turkish Statistics Institute (TÜİK), perhaps pointing to an increase in subsequent involuntary celibacy in the nation.
Owing to Turkey's high social conservatism (at least compared to Western countries) the ability to achieve marriage is likely a major factor in determining involuntarily celibacy in the country. Thus, it is important to note that arranged and even forced marriages are still quite common in Turkey, especially in more rural areas and the highly socially conservative eastern regions of Anatolia, with a report published by TÜİK finding these types of marriage were more common than free choice marriages, at least among women who married young (≤ 24). This would indicate that the causes of male involuntary celibacy would be expected to be somewhat different in Turkey compared to the more sexually permissive Western countries, as somewhat different factors determine mate choice in the context of arranged marriage compared to "love marriages." Thus, it is not easy to work out precise figures on the number of sexless individuals in Turkey, apart from sexlessness likely being heavily concentrated among younger Turkish men, similar to trends found in the other countries discussed in this article.
United Kingdom[edit | edit source]
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.
Incel and volcel categories[edit | edit source]
One can broadly distinguish different demographic groups that experience mating difficulties or voluntarily abstain from sex:
- Late adult virgins, perma-virgins, Wizards etc.: Virgins older than 30 are rare (1-2%) and they strongly differ from the overall population.
- By far the most distinguishing feature of adult virgins aged around 28 years, is that about 50% identify as asexuals (volcels) while only 1% of the overall population identifies as asexual. In one national probability sample, there were 29.23% of males in the sample of asexuals (N = 195), but 43.17% among sexuals (N = 18,426, X² = 15.30, p < 0.001), suggesting women are more likely volcels, in accordance with their lower sex drive. But provided that male perma-virgins outnumber female perma-virgins in various countries, should suggest that voluntary femcels are somewhat overrepresented among perma-virgins.
- Adult virgins are also a bit more likely overweight, low-functioning and/or physically unattractive when compared to sex havers, and they tend to have markers of a slow life history, e.g. lower engagement in risky behavior, later onset of puberty, are more often East Asian. Further, there is an overrepresentation of women getting college degrees. Overall, however, looks are only weakly related to sexual success.
- Early adult virgins: This category is increasingly common these days, with about half of U.S. 12th graders never having dated. This being a much larger demographic group than late adult virgins, it is expected to differ much less from the overall population.
- Dry spells: Even more common is the category of the sexually frustrated or those experiencing dry spells with 51% of U.S. millenials not having had a steady partner in 2018, and roughly 30% reporting to be often or always lonely. Being a large share of the population, this group is expected to differ very little from the overall population.
- Dead bedroom: A special incel case is that of husbandcels in dead bedroom couples, as women lose their sex drive much sooner than men, especially when cohabiting closely. This affects about 10-20% of couples.
- By life history speed:
- Fast life history incels may be the most sexually frustrated and may be facing an evolutionary mismatch due to a recent decline in casual sexual behavior and related risky behavior during adolescence and early adulthood, or fast life history minorities living in a host population with a slow life history (see the race section). However, despite sexual activity during youth having declined in the U.S., a minority of fast life history strategists appears to be having more sex than ever at the same time.
- Slow life history incels may also be facing an evolutionary mismatch, such as expecting to be married as was common throughout history, but not getting married due to the recent decline in marriage norms, or women getting college degrees refusing to date down.
References[edit | edit source]
- Haydon, A. A., Cheng, M. M., Herring, A. H., McRee, A.-L., & Halpern, C. T. (2013). Prevalence and Predictors of Sexual Inexperience in Adulthood. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 43(2), 221–230. doi:10.1007/s10508-013-0164-3
- October 2019 Incels.co Survey
- Haydon, A. A., Cheng, M. M., Herring, A. H., McRee, A.-L., & Halpern, C. T. (2013). Prevalence and Predictors of Sexual Inexperience in Adulthood. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 43(2), 221–230. doi:10.1007/s10508-013-0164-3
- 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 they stay single in order to focus on their careers (Source: https://www.springer.com/de/book/9783658059231)
- Brown, G.R., Laland, K.N. and Mulder, M.B. 2009. Bateman's principles and human sex roles. [FullText]
- Boislard, M.-A., van de Bongardt, D., & Blais, M. (2016). Sexuality (and Lack Thereof) in Adolescence and Early Adulthood: A Review of the Literature. Behavioral Sciences, 6(1), 8. doi:10.3390/bs6010008
- 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]
- Patricia Crone (2015). Pre-Industrial Societies: Anatomy of the Pre-Modern World. Oneworld (Kindle Edition). p. 2747 (Kindle loc.).
- 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.
- Ghaznavi C, Sakamoto, H, et al. 2020. The herbivore’s dilemma: Trends in and factors associated with heterosexual relationship status and interest in romantic relationships among young adults in Japan—Analysis of national surveys, 1987–2015. [Article] [Discussion]