Bad Economy Dampens Baby Boomers' Sex Drive

Liz, a software developer from Silicon Valley, Calif., has been out of work for a year and just as unlucky in sex.

"The outlets for meeting people and developing relationships are the Internet and dating services, and they all charge for that," said Liz, who asked that her last name not be used.

She thought about the no-fee service, PlentyofFish.com, "but that's a Catch-22," she said. "It's free, which is great, but you are looking at people who are cheap or looking for others who are cheap."

Many of the other dating spots such as workout gyms and bars come with hefty price tags.

"If you want to go to a nice bar and meet some high-end guys, you have to spend a lot of money, unless you get someone to buy you a drink, and that doesn't happen much as we get older," she said.

Liz is 61, divorced and hasn't had a date in a year. Even if she did find Mr. Right, she said she wonders how it would play out now that she is unemployed.

"There is the constant worry about the economy, which interjects a dose of reality when you try to get intimate," she said.

Liz and other Americans 45 and older say they are engaging in sex less often and with less satisfaction, according to the just-released AARP survey, "Sex Romance and Relationships."

The survey is a follow-up to AARP's 1999 landmark report on sexual practices and attitudes, and another survey in 2004. Since then, the economy has taken a turn for the worse and, many experts say, financial worries contribute to the waning interest.

"The core problem is the stress of losing your job or being afraid you'll lost your job or losing money in your investments and the price of not having health care; pretty depressing things," said Pepper Schwartz, a sociologist from the University of Washington and a columnist for AARP, which represents 40 million Americans older than 50.

"Huge problems are unveiled when people lose that small protective cushion," said Schwartz, author of "Prime: Advice and Adventures About Sex, Love and the Sensual Years."

"When there is anxiety, sex is not on your mind, and with less money you don't go out as much," she said.

The survey is based on detailed questionnaires completed last year by 1,670 people 45 and older. The report said sexual activity among both single and married respondents had declined 10 percentage points since the 2004 survey.

Twenty-eight percent of respondents reported in the most recent survey they had intercourse at least once a week, and 40 percent at least once a month.

Only 43 percent said they were satisfied, down from 51 percent in 2004. Married couples had the least amount of sex, compared to singles with partners.

The survey asked respondents what would improve their sexual satisfaction and 20 percent of the women and 37 percent of the men said better health; 14 percent of the women and 26 percent of the men said better personal finances.

Hispanics More Enthusiastic About Sex

Meanwhile, AARP found that Hispanics are more satisfied and have more sex than their non-Hispanic counterparts. More details on that data will be released in June.

"They think it's an important quality of life," Schwartz said. "They have more habits of complimenting and hugging their partner and are sensitive to their concerns and high happiness, even when their health isn't good.

"They have a different culture about sexuality that prizes and guards it."

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