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People are marrying and beginning families at ages later than previous generations while becoming sexually mature at an earlier age.

As a result, Garcia and other scholars argue that young adults are able to reproduce physiologically but are not psychologically or socially ready to 'settle down' and begin a family.

These developmental shifts, Garcia's systematic review of the literature suggests, is one of the factors driving the increase in hookups, a "popular cultural change that has infiltrated the lives of emerging adults throughout the Western world." The review shows that hookups are becoming increasingly normative among young adults and adolescents in North America and have taken root throughout the Western world, which represents a notable shift in how casual sex is perceived and accepted.

Garcia and others have noted that the "past decade has witnessed an explosion in interest in the topic of hookups, both scientifically and in the popular media.

Young women tend to be honest about their sexual encounters and experiences, while young men tend to lie more often about theirs.

The term "hooking up", meaning an instance of casual sex, differs from hook up culture.

A hook up is an act that involves sexual intimacy, claimed by many to be a sexually liberating act.

On the other hand, hook up culture is thought to be oppressive and monolithic, with intimacy only occurring within a specific context.

Historians D'Emilio and Freedman put the beginning of casual sex, including college hookups, further back in history, to the early 1800s, and explain the phenomenon as shaped by historical and cultural forces.

They give as examples planter class white men who had casual sex with enslaved African American women, and white male college students who had casual sex with both white and black women.

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