When my wife and I decided to get married lo those many moons ago, it was a pretty low-key process. I think I said something to the affect of, “Hey, if you want to get married we better do it next week or I might change my mind…!” I don’t think either of us was looking to get married any more than we were looking to get struck by lightening. Although come to think of it, I guess one or both of us WAS struck by lightening because we’re still together two decades later and then some.
But I guess my point is — like a lot of people, the thought of being single wasn’t such a bad thing. And apparently in 2007, being single still isn’t such a bad thing because a recent survey by the United States Census Bureau pretty much spells it out: 51% of the women in Americaare not married.
According to a recent article in the New York Times (www.nytimes.com), these numbers by no means suggest that marriage is dead or necessarily that a tipping point has been reached. The total number of married couples is higher than ever, and most Americans eventually marry. But marriage has been facing more competition. A growing number of adults are spending more of their lives single or living unmarried with partners, and the potential social and economic implications are profound.
Like I said, being single isn’t such a bad thing. Although it’s been a long time since I was single. (If it means anything though, I have slept on the couch more than a few times when my wife and I argue…and that kind of reminds me of being single). But I digress.
The US Census survey (www.census.gov) estimated that 5.2 million couples, a little more than 5 percent of households, were unmarried opposite-sex partners. An additional 413,000 households were male couples, and 363,000 were female couples. In all, nearly one in 10 couples was unmarried.
And the numbers of unmarried couples are growing. Since 2000, those identifying themselves as unmarried opposite-sex couples rose by about 14 percent, male couples by 24 percent and female couples by 12 percent.
It’s interesting that a by-product of all these unmarried individuals has increased the number of individuals having pre-marital sex. That’s according to a recent CNN poll (www.cnn.com)of some 300,000 men and women. Well DUHHH — if less people are getting married…and more women and men are remaining single…then of course more woman (and men) are having pre-marital sex. Despite the millions of dollars that the Bush administration spends promoting celibacy before marriage, I’d say men and women of all ages do the deed when they hear nature calling. (In all fairness though, the celibacy programs are aimed at teens).
So fewer women are marrying and more couples are living together. Makes sense to me. You don’t have to work for the census bureau to understand it’s a matter of economics and today’s work-force realities.
Comments Andrew A. Beveridge, a demographer at Queens College of the City University of New York, “…You used to get married to have sex. Now one of the major reasons to get married is to have children, and the attractiveness of having children has declined for many people because of the cost….”
Speaking of which, the Times report also pointed out that based on US Census data, married couples have not been a majority of households headed by adults younger than 25 since the 1970’s, but among those aged 25 to 34 the proportion slipped below 50 percent for the first time within the past five years. (Among Americans aged 35 to 64, married couples still make up a majority of all households).
I’m sure these types of statistics are cyclical. But then again, maybe not. As more and more women enter the work place and become more competitive (which is a good thing) and are no longer tied down to their home towns. That also can mean that the gene pool in many respective areas both urban and rural is dwindling. And that — says experts — can decrease the numbers of married couple as well.
According to data from the Council on Contemporary Families (www.contemporaryfamilies.org), a nonprofit research group, the census survey revealed wide disparities in household composition by location. The proportion of married couples ranged from more than 69 percent in Utah County, Utah, which includes Provo, to 26 percent in Manhattan, which has a smaller share of married couples than almost anyplace in the country. But Manhattan registered a 1.2 percent increase in married couples since 2000, in contrast to the rest of New York City and many other places.
In other words – if you can’t find ’em…you can’t marry ’em…
I tend to take another slant: I think there are more single women today then ever before because women today are in no rush to get married. And you know what…when it comes to marriage there’s no sense in rushing.