Now that your taxes are done, we thought we'd explore the sexier side of financial insolvency. Those of you excited about a little more recreational activity in your bedrooms should keep reading. It turns out all these financial disasters may have a bit of a silver lining.
Exhibit A is the following graph, which shows the average number of times Americans have sex each year, broken down by their level of satisfaction with their financial situation. The data is from the General Social Survey, a National Science Foundation project that has interviewed over 50,000 people over the last four decades.
The data is clear – for the past twenty years, dissatisfaction with one's financial situation is consistently associated with more sex. We will refer to this as the "More Money, Less Sex" Effect.
Of course, we have to be careful not to confuse correlation with causation. It's equally plausible that the causality goes the other direction: that having lots of sex contributes to less satisfaction with your financial situation. Or maybe you're just left with less time to go to work. This seems vaguely plausible.
Or perhaps there's another hidden, confounding variable. Let's bring age into the mix and see what happens.
First, take a moment to appreciate how rapidly sex lives evaporate with age. Shed a quiet tear. When you're ready, we'll move on.
Using line width to represent population size, we see our first graph was biased by the large numbers of financially dissatisfied young people having lots of sex. We should look more closely at age's effect on the sex/money relationship.
Notice that the relationship between financial stability and one's sex life is markedly different based on the respondents' age. Dissatisfaction with one's financial situation doesn't appear to have any effect on libido, because the younger, financially strapped respondents are having A LOT of sex.
The situation changes rather sharply after age 35, though. Perhaps by that age, financial difficulties make one a less desirable sexual partner. The moral is clear though - If you want to keep the fires burning into your golden years, get your financial affairs together early. (Not too early, though. Right around age 35 would be perfect.)
Age 35 is the transition point for the general population. Segmenting by gender, however, reveals another interesting pattern. For men, the burden of financial responsibility doesn't become a prerequisite for great sex until the early 40's. It happens a decade earlier for women – around age 30. Interestingly, this is just after average childbearing age for both groups. (The second inversion for men, at age 80, has a very small sample size so we'll refrain from reading anything into it.)
While we don't recommend you leave your job just yet, the data doesn't lie. (Download the packaged workbook and explore the data for yourself.) Particularly when we're near our sexual peaks, more money = less sex.