Monday, October 18, 2010

The Surge in Singles over Marrieds: Trends + Observations

The U.S. Census Bureau recently revealed that the number of singles among young adults passed the number of marrieds for the first time in a century. Why? A story last month in The New York Times attributes the phenomenon primarily to the economy — people cannot afford to marry.

A whole host of socioeconomic and cultural factors led us to this point. The introduction of the pill and the rise of the women’s rights movement helped to end the issue connected with sex outside of marriage, for both parties. Today, among the affluent (still large numbers even in this recession), there is greater value placed on independence. Further, as women have risen economically, successful single women are held in high esteem. I would also argue that the 40-year struggle — and public relations efforts — of the gay and lesbian community in the U.S. has resulted in greater acceptance of the non-married lifestyle, making co-habitation more acceptable today than ever before. There is little social pressure to marry. Women and men are opting to have children as single parents. “Doing what you want” is okay.

Perhaps, with the spread of computers and electronic communications, there is less one-on-one intimacy. Collaboration via computers may be a substitute for one-on-one intimacy. In fact, as one church counselor has said, these virtual relationships may, in fact, be fostering a fear of real intimacy.

So when the economy comes back, there may be a surge in marriage … but it may not be as dramatic as it might have been in other times.

Technorati Tags: U.S. Census Bureau, The New York Times,marriage, public relations, business, communications, Makovsky


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