How Much More XXX is Generation X Consuming? Evidence of Changing Attitudes and Behaviors Related to Pornography Since 1973

J Sex Res. 2016;53(1):12-20. doi: 10.1080/00224499.2014.1003773. Epub 2015 Jul 13.


We use data from the General Social Survey (GSS) over a 40-year period (1973-2012) to evaluate changes in attitudes about pornography and pornography consumption among American young adults. One of the major challenges in making comparisons across birth generations is separating the effect of birth cohort from age and period effects. We use an intrinsic estimator to separately identify the effects of age, birth cohort, and time period using 40 years of repeated cross-section data. We find that, relative to the general population, young people's beliefs about whether pornography should be illegal have stayed relatively constant over this 40-year period and, if anything, have slightly increased. We also find that pornography consumption has been increasing across birth generations, though this increase has been smaller than would be inferred based on differences across generations at a single point in time, due to a strong age component in consumption patterns.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Erotica / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • United States / ethnology
  • Young Adult