Study co-authors Martin Monto, a sociology professor at the University of Portland, and Anna Carey, a recent graduate, said for the study they used a nationally representative sample from the General Social Survey of more than 1,800 young adults ages 18-25. The study subjects had graduated from high school and completed at least one year of college.
Monto and Carey compared responses from 1988-96 with those from 2002-10, the era that researchers often describe as characterized by a "hookup culture."
"Recent research and popular media reports have described intimate relationships among contemporary college students as characterized by a new and pervasive hookup culture in which students regularly have sex with no strings attached," Monto said in a statement.
"This implies that the college campus has become a more sexualized environment and that undergraduates are having more sex than in the past. We were surprised to find this is not the case."
Among the 1988-96 group, 65 percent reported having sex weekly or more often in the past year, compared with 59 percent of college students from the hookup era.
In addition, 32 percent of the earlier group reported having more than one sexual partner in the past year, compared with 32 percent of contemporary college students and 52 percent of the earlier group reported having more than two sexual partners after turning 18, compared with 51 percent of the 2002-10 group, the study said.
The findings were presented at the 108th annual meeting of the American Sociological Association in New York.