Gender identity and sexual orientation differences by generation

New Ipsos study finds that fewer younger Americans say they are only attracted to the opposite sex when compared to older cohorts

The author(s)
  • Sara Machi Research Analyst, Public Affairs
  • Chris Jackson Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs
Get in touch

Washington, DC, February 23, 2021 - Nearly all Americans describe themselves as either male or female, regardless of age according to a new Ipsos poll. Sexual orientation reveals differences across generations though, with older generations far more likely than younger generations to say they are only attracted to the opposite sex. Adding to this, Generation Z and Millennials are less likely than Generation X and Baby Boomers to identify as heterosexual.

Sexual identity

Among Generation Z and Millennials, women are slightly more likely than men to say they are equally attracted to both sexes (14% vs. 9%), while men are more likely to say they are attracted only to the same (11% vs. 6%) or opposite (65% vs. 51%) sex. Nonetheless, the majority men and women in this younger cohort says they are only attracted to the opposite sex.

About the Study

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between February 22-23, 2021. For this survey, a sample of 1,005 adults age 18+ from the continental U.S., Alaska, and Hawaii was interviewed online in English. The sample includes 104 Generation Z respondents, 268 millennial respondents, 287 Generation X respondents, and 346 baby boomer or older respondents.

The sample for this study was randomly drawn from Ipsos’ online panel (see link for more info on “Access Panels and Recruitment”), partner online panel sources, and “river” sampling (see link for more info on the Ipsos “Ampario Overview” sample method) and does not rely on a population frame in the traditional sense. Ipsos uses fixed sample targets, unique to each study, in drawing a sample. After a sample has been obtained from the Ipsos panel, Ipsos calibrates respondent characteristics to be representative of the U.S. Population using standard procedures such as raking-ratio adjustments. The source of these population targets is U.S. Census 2018 American Community Survey data. The sample drawn for this study reflects fixed sample targets on demographics. Post hoc weights were made to the population characteristics on gender, age, race/ethnicity, region, and education.

Statistical margins of error are not applicable to online non-probability polls. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error and measurement error. Where figures do not sum to 100, this is due to the effects of rounding. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points for all respondents. Ipsos calculates a design effect (DEFF) for each study based on the variation of the weights, following the formula of Kish (1965). This study had a credibility interval adjusted for design effect of the following (n=1,005, DEFF=1.5, adjusted Confidence Interval=+/-5.0 percentage points).

The poll has a credibility interval or plus or minus 11.0 percentage points for Generation Z respondents, plus or minus 6.8 percentage points for millennial respondents, plus or minus 6.6 percentage points for Generation X respondents, and plus or minus 6.0 percentage points for baby boomer or older respondents.

About Ipsos

Ipsos is the world’s third largest market research company, present in 90 markets and employing more than 18,000 people.

Our passionately curious research professionals, analysts and scientists have built unique multi-specialist capabilities that provide true understanding and powerful insights into the actions, opinions and motivations of citizens, consumers, patients, customers or employees. We serve more than 5000 clients across the world with 75 business solutions.

Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos is listed on the Euronext Paris since July 1st, 1999. The company is part of the SBF 120 and the Mid-60 index and is eligible for the Deferred Settlement Service (SRD).

ISIN code FR0000073298, Reuters ISOS.PA, Bloomberg IPS:FP

The author(s)
  • Sara Machi Research Analyst, Public Affairs
  • Chris Jackson Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs