Less Religion, Less Marriage, and Less Sex Are Making a Younger Generation Less Happy

Last year, the proportion of eighteen-to-thirty-four-year-old Americans reporting themselves to be “very happy” hit a new low. The social scientists W. Bradford Wilcox and Lyman Stone, seeking to explain these data, note a corresponding drop in the same cohort of marriage rates, frequency of attendance at religious services, and frequency of sexual intercourse—all factors that have been shown to correlate with happiness. They write:

Controlling for basic demographics and other social characteristics, married young adults are about 75-percent more likely to report that they are very happy, compared with their peers who are not married. . . . As it turns out, the share of young adults who are married has fallen from 59 percent in 1972 to 28 percent in 2018. The decline has been similar for men and women . . .

Young adults who attend religious services more than once a month are about 40-percent more likely to report that they are very happy, compared with their peers who are not religious at all. . . . What’s happening to religious attendance among young adults today? The share of young adults who attend religious services more than monthly has fallen from 38 percent in 1972 to 27 percent in 2018, even as the share who never attend has risen rapidly. Among young men, nonattendance is much more common than regular attendance, and the gap is steadily growing. Less involvement in the life of a local church, mosque, temple, or synagogue, we speculate, might translate into less happiness for young adults.

Upon further analysis, Wilcox and Stone conclude that what some observers have dubbed the “sex recession,” even if it cannot entirely be separated from the other two, is likely to be the most significant factor of all in declining happiness:

[W]hile marriage composition independently has only a modest effect on society-wide happiness, the decline in sexual frequency is itself related to postponed marriage: married people have sex more often. Finding a spouse can be hard and, crucially, one of the places young adults have historically found their spouses is church. Thus, while most of the decline in happiness is about declining sex, that’s not the end of the story. Declining sex is at least partly about family and religious changes that make it harder for people to achieve stable, coupled life at a young age. If we’d like more young adults to experience the joy of sex, we will have either to revive these institutions or to find new ways to kindle love in the rising generation.

Read more at Atlantic

More about: American Religion, American society, Marriage, Sociology

Why Egypt Fears an Israeli Victory in Gaza

While the current Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, has never been friendly to Hamas, his government has objected strenuously to the Israeli campaign in the southernmost part of the Gaza Strip. Haisam Hassanein explains why:

Cairo has long been playing a double game, holding Hamas terrorists near while simultaneously trying to appear helpful to the United States and Israel. Israel taking control of Rafah threatens Egypt’s ability to exploit the chaos in Gaza, both to generate profits for regime insiders and so Cairo can pose as an indispensable mediator and preserve access to U.S. money and arms.

Egyptian security officials have looked the other way while Hamas and other Palestinian militants dug tunnels on the Egyptian-Gaza border. That gave Cairo the ability to use the situation in Gaza as a tool for regional influence and to ensure Egypt’s role in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would not be eclipsed by regional competitors such as Qatar and Turkey.

Some elements close to the Sisi regime have benefited from Hamas control over Gaza and the Rafah crossing. Media reports indicate an Egyptian company run by one of Sisi’s close allies is making hundreds of millions of dollars by taxing Gazans fleeing the current conflict.

Moreover, writes Judith Miller, the Gaza war has been a godsend to the entire Egyptian economy, which was in dire straits last fall. Since October 7, the International Monetary Fund has given the country a much-needed injection of cash, since the U.S. and other Western countries believe it is a necessary intermediary and stabilizing force. Cairo therefore sees the continuation of the war, rather than an Israeli victory, as most desirable. Hassanein concludes:

Adding to its financial incentive, the Sisi regime views the Rafah crossing as a crucial card in preserving Cairo’s regional standing. Holding it increases Egypt’s relevance to countries that want to send aid to the Palestinians and ensures Washington stays quiet about Egypt’s gross human-rights violations so it can maintain a stable flow of U.S. assistance and weaponry. . . . No serious effort to turn the page on Hamas will yield the desired results without cutting this umbilical cord between the Sisi regime and Hamas.

Read more at Washington Examiner

More about: Egypt, Gaza War 2023, U.S. Foreign policy