Does The UK University Sex Survey Prove The Chad Effect?

Black Pill CritiqueSex Statistics

One stat that is sometimes referenced as evidence for the ‘chad effect’ comes from a survey of UK University students reported on by The Telegraph which appeared to show a discrepancy among young men and women. While rates were quite low overall, there was a 13% gender gap in having had sex while a student at university.

It’s unfortunate that people rarely seek out the primary source, as there is often additional information to be found there which can help contextualize the situation. Let’s see if that’s the case here.

The sample was 1,004 UK undergrads among YouthSight’s Student Panel who were polled in August 2020.

This first chart shows students’ experiences and expectations about sex and relationships when beginning university. Most people felt that finding friends was a higher priority than sex partners. 41% of male and 44% of female students were virgins upon entering virginity, so we don’t find an imbalance there at least. Same with intimate kisses, 74% of male and 75% of female students had had one. 23% of female students reported having been in a long-distance relationship when beginning university to 13% of male students. When it came to experiences on the ‘welcome week’, there were no gender gaps. 13% of both male and female students had kissed someone, 11% of male and 7% of female students had sex with someone new. So at least in this initial period we don’t see a chad effect.

Here we see the sex question, but another question here also shows an notable gender gap. While 23% of male students reported being currently in a relationship, 38% of female students did. This gap is 15%, 2% higher than the sex gap. Therefore it seems highly plausible that the sex gap could be explained by female students not necessarily ‘sharing the same guys’ within the university, but having sex with their partners who were outside the university. This could be due to women tending to date up a bit in age, or male students being less desired as partners perhaps because they find it difficult to simultaneously hold a job for instance.

Here are the sex partner distributions. Among those who are sexually active, promiscuity is quite rare. 81% of female and 71% of male students who had had sex while a student reported only having 1-3 sex partners. However even taking into account the fact that a higher percentage of women had had sex while a student (and that there are more female students overall), these other numbers don’t look like they add up. Some of it will be homosexual sex, but there’s also potentially some misreporting. Who’s doing more of it is up for debate. You could argue this skewed distribution provides some evidence for the chad effect, but I’m more inclined to believe the relationship figures are more likely to be reliable and a better explanation.

Why No Sex?

In regards to the low rate of sexual activity overall, contrary to the idea that university is where you go to ‘get laid’, data from the National Survey of Family Growth shows that 18-23 heterosexual males and females attending school are consistently more likely to be sexually abstinent than non-students. I can’t tell you why exactly. It might be that they’re too stressed, that living in dorms with roommates gets in the way, or maybe people who attend university are more risk-averse on average.

Some may have forgotten already, but this time was marked by a global pandemic, which could also have been a confounding factor. It’s also likely that there is a trend of delayed adolescence which is playing a role.

Another source, the British National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Mercer et al., 2022), found four months following the COVID lockdowns that 27.9% of 18-24 men hadn’t had partnered sex before compared to 26.8% of 18-24 women. 13% of 18-24 men had had partnered sex but not since lockdown, compared to 19.4% of 18-24 women. The sample size was comparable to this student survey. So it seems that overall young women aren’t necessarily having more sex than men (or if they are the gap is very small and again probably due to age gaps in relationships), which is consistent with US survey data.

People like to play the game of ‘chad of the gaps’, where they seek out gender gaps in sex/relationships to fill with chad. As we see however, when you look more carefully into the data there is usually more to the story.


Pozniak, H. (2021). University students aren’t having sex – and parents don’t know whether to be relieved or worried. The Telegraph.

Hillman, N. (2021). Sex and Relationships Among Students: Summary Report. Higher Education policy Institute.

Mercer, C. H., Clifton, S., Riddell, J., Tanton, C., Freeman, L., Copas, A. J., Dema, E., Bosó Pérez, R., Gibbs, J., Macdowall, W., Menezes, D., Ridge, M. C., Bonell, C., Sonnenberg, P., Field, N., & Mitchell, K. R. (2022). Impacts of COVID-19 on sexual behaviour in Britain: findings from a large, quasi-representative survey (Natsal-COVID). Sexually transmitted infections98(7), 469–477.


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