How Common is Bisexuality – Statistics on prevalence among men and women
By Bedbible Research Center / May 09, 2023
This is the most extensive analysis on bisexuality, presenting findings from the most prominent studies conducted over the last decade. The studies included in this analysis range from national surveys, such as the CDC’s National Survey of Family Growth and the Gallup Daily Tracking Survey, the latest Census Bureau survey to academic studies. Together, these studies provide valuable insights into the prevalence and trends of bisexuality in the United States, as well as its relationship to demographics such as age, and gender.
- 4.2 – 4.5 percent of the US population identify as bisexual.
- Bisexuality is more common in the US population than homosexuality (almost 60% of LGB identify as bisexual).
- The percentage of people who identify as bisexual has increased from under 2 percent just 10 years ago.
- 5.5 percent of women identify as bisexual.
- 2.2 percent of men identify as bisexual.
- Young adults aged 18-29 are the most likely to identify as bisexual, nearly 1 in 10 reporting this identity.
- Bisexual identification is higher among women than men across all age groups.
- Less than 1% of 65+ years old identify as bisexual, compared to 5.4% of 25-34 year olds, and 4.0% of 35-44 year olds.
Williams Institute, a 2004-2010 estimates of bisexuality prevalence
The study, published by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, aimed to estimate the size of the LGBT population in the United States. The study used data from multiple national surveys and found that an estimated 11 million adults, or 4.5% of the adult population in the US, identify as LGBT. This number includes 1.7% who identify as bisexual, 1.8% as gay, and 0.7% as lesbian.
The study also found that the proportion of the population who identifies as LGBT varies significantly by age, with younger adults being more likely to identify as LGBT than older adults. Additionally, the study found that LGBT individuals are more likely to be people of color, low-income, and less educated than their non-LGBT counterparts.
While the study did not focus specifically on bisexuality, the data shows that bisexual individuals make up a significant portion of the LGBT population in the US, and that they face unique challenges related to their sexual orientation. For example, bisexual individuals may experience stigma and discrimination from both heterosexual and homosexual individuals and communities, and may struggle with identity acceptance and finding support from others.
The key findings of the article are:
- An estimated 3.5% of adults in the United States identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual, and an estimated 0.3% of adults are transgender.
- This implies that there are approximately 9 million LGBT Americans, a figure roughly equivalent to the population of New Jersey.
- Among adults who identify as LGB, bisexuals comprise a slight majority (1.8% compared to 1.7% who identify as lesbian or gay).
- Women are substantially more likely than men to identify as bisexual. Bisexuals comprise more than half of the lesbian and bisexual population among women in eight of the nine surveys considered in the brief. Conversely, gay men comprise substantially more than half of gay and bisexual men in seven of the nine surveys.
- Estimates of those who report any lifetime same-sex sexual behavior and any same-sex sexual attraction are substantially higher than estimates of those who identify as LGB. An estimated 19 million Americans (8.2%) report that they have engaged in same-sex sexual behavior and nearly 25.6 million Americans (11%) acknowledge at least some same-sex sexual attraction.
On the above graph the different data sources for the meta-study of the Williams institute are represented.
It shows that:
- The National Epidemiological survey from 2004-05 finds that 0.7 percent of the population identify as bisexual.
- The NSFG survey from 2006-08 finds that 2.3 percent of the population identify as bisexual.
- GSS from 2008 finds that 1.1 percent of the population identify as bisexual.
- The California Health Interview survey from 2009 finds that 1.4 percent of the population identify as bisexual.
- The National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior from 2009 finds that 3.1 percent of the population identify as bisexual.
- The Canadian Community Health Survey from 2005 frinds that 0.8 percent of the Canadian population identify as bisexual.
- An Australian longitudinal survey study from 2005 finds that 1.2 percent of the Australian population identify as bisexual.
- An integrated UK survey from 2009-2010 finds that 0.5 percent of the UK population identify as bisexual.
- In a Norwegian living conditions survey from 2010 they find that 0.5 percent of the Norwegian population report to identify as bisexual.
Estimated absolute number of people in the US who identifies as bisexual:
In total the Williams institute finds that there is a difference between men and women:
- An estimated 2.2 percent of women identify as bisexual (2.6 million American women).
- An estimated 1.4 percent of men identify as bisexual (1.5 million American men).
The GSS (General Social Survey) is a nationally representative survey that has been conducted annually in the United States since 1972. It is designed to collect data on a wide range of social, cultural, and political issues, including sexual behavior and identity.
Here are the findings from the GSS on the prevalence of homosexuality, bisexuality, and heterosexuality in the United States:
- In 2008, 1.7% of respondents identified as homosexual, 1.1% identified as bisexual, and 97.2% identified as heterosexual.
- In 2010, 1.3% of respondents identified as homosexual, 1.4% identified as bisexual, and 97.2% identified as heterosexual.
- In 2012, 1.4% of respondents identified as homosexual, 2.0% identified as bisexual, and 96.5% identified as heterosexual.
- In 2014, 1.7% of respondents identified as homosexual, 2.7% identified as bisexual, and 95.6% identified as heterosexual.
- In 2016, 2.6% of respondents identified as homosexual, 2.9% identified as bisexual, and 94.6% identified as heterosexual.
- In 2018, 1.8% of respondents identified as homosexual, 3.8% identified as bisexual, and 94.4% identified as heterosexual.
- In 2021, 3.4% of respondents identified as homosexual, 4.5% identified as bisexual, and 92.1% identified as heterosexual.
Some key takeaways from this data include:
- The percentage of respondents who identify as homosexual or bisexual has increased over time, particularly since 2014.
- Bisexual identification has seen the largest increase, rising from 1.1% in 2008 to 4.5% in 2021.
- While the majority of respondents still identify as heterosexual, the percentage has decreased over time.
- The GSS data provides important insights into the prevalence of different sexual identities in the United States and can help inform public policy and research.
|GSS survey year||Homosexual||Bisexual||Heterosexual|
According to Gallup’s annual surveys on LGBT identification, the percentage of Americans who identify as LGBT has been steadily increasing over the past decade.
In particular, the percentage of Americans who identify as bisexual has seen significant growth.
Here are some key findings based on the data:
- In 2012, 3.5% of Americans identified as LGBT, with 1.5% identifying as bisexual. By 2022, the percentage of Americans identifying as LGBT had risen to 7.2%, with 4.2% identifying as bisexual.
- Over this time period, the percentage of Americans identifying as LGBT increased by 3.7 percentage points, while the percentage identifying as bisexual increased by 2.7 percentage points.
- As a result, the proportion of the LGBT population that identifies as bisexual has been steadily increasing. In 2012, bisexuals made up 43.9% of the LGBT population, while in 2022 they made up 58.2%.
- It’s worth noting that Gallup’s surveys on LGBT identification only ask respondents to choose between “gay or lesbian,” “bisexual,” and “transgender,” so the data does not capture other forms of sexual or gender identity. Additionally, the surveys do not distinguish between people who identify as exclusively bisexual and those who identify as mostly heterosexual but with some attraction to the same gender.
Table with data from Gallup survey years.
|% LGBT in US population||% Bisexual in US population||% Bisexual of LGBT|
CDC data on bisexuality prevalence
The CDC data provides insight into the sexual orientation of adults in the United States from various demographic groups. Here are some key findings:
- Sexual orientation among adults:
- Heterosexual or straight: 89.6% (NSFG), 86.9% (NHIS)
- Homosexual or gay (or lesbian): 2.7% (NSFG), 2.0% (NHIS)
- Bisexual: 7.7% (NSFG), 7.5% (NHIS)
- Sexual orientation among women and men:
- Among women, 76.8% reported only opposite sex attraction, while 1.5% reported only same-sex attraction.
- Among men, 90.6% reported only opposite sex attraction, while 1.9% reported only same-sex attraction.
- Sexual orientation by age and gender:
- Among women, those aged 25-44 were more likely to identify as bisexual than those aged 18-24 (4.7% vs. 7.8%).
- Among men, those aged 18-24 were more likely to identify as homosexual than those aged 25-44 (2.6% vs. 1.7%).
- Heterosexual orientation was the most common among all age groups and genders.
- Not all adults report their sexual orientation:
- Among women, 0.9% did not report their sexual orientation, and among men, 1% did not report their sexual orientation.
In summary, the majority of adults in the United States identify as heterosexual or straight, while a smaller percentage identify as homosexual or bisexual. There are some differences in sexual orientation by age and gender, with younger adults and men more likely to identify as homosexual, and women aged 25-44 more likely to identify as bisexual.
Comparing historical trends estimates
When looking at data on bisexuality in the United States, it’s important to consider a range of sources and methodologies. The CDC’s National Survey of Family Growth and National Health Interview Survey provide estimates of sexual orientation among adults, while Gallup polls offer a broader look at the percentage of Americans who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT). The General Social Survey also offers insights into trends in bisexuality over time.
According to the CDC’s surveys from 2015-2019, around 7.7% of adults identified as bisexual, with slightly higher estimates from the NSFG compared to NHIS. Additionally, about 2.7% of adults identified as homosexual or gay, with slightly higher estimates from the NSFG compared to NHIS. The surveys also found that women were more likely to report same-sex attraction or behavior than men, with 1.4-1.5% of women identifying as mostly same-sex or only same-sex, compared to 0.8-1.9% of men.
Gallup polling data over the years has shown a steady increase in the percentage of Americans who identify as LGBT, with the most recent estimate from 2021 showing that 7.1% of Americans identify as bisexual. This is in line with a 2021 survey estimate from the Census Bureau, which found that 4.4% of the population identify as bisexual. It’s worth noting that the Census Bureau’s estimate includes all ages, while the Gallup poll is limited to adults.
Overall, while estimates of bisexuality in the United States vary depending on the data source and methodology used, there does seem to be a trend of increasing acceptance and visibility of bisexuality in recent years. However, it’s important to remember that sexuality is complex and multifaceted, and that these numbers only capture a small piece of a much larger picture.
Age and Bisexual Identification
Bisexuality is a sexual orientation that can be experienced by individuals of any age. However, the prevalence of bisexual identification may vary by age group. The table below provides data on bisexual identification by age group from the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) for the years 2015-2019.
|Age Group||Percent Identifying as Bisexual|
As shown in the table, younger age groups tend to have higher rates of bisexual identification. For example, 7.8% of individuals aged 18-24 identify as bisexual compared to only 0.6% of individuals aged 65 and older.
One possible explanation for this trend is that younger individuals are more likely to identify as bisexual due to changes in attitudes towards sexuality and greater social acceptance of non-heterosexual identities. In contrast, older individuals may have grown up in a time where there was less awareness of bisexuality or less acceptance of non-heterosexual identities.
It’s important to note that the data above represents self-identification as bisexual, and does not necessarily reflect an individual’s sexual behavior or attraction. Additionally, the data may be subject to response bias or social desirability bias, as individuals may be hesitant to disclose non-heterosexual identities in surveys. Nonetheless, the data provides some insight into how bisexual identification may vary by age group.