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Friday, January 19, 2007

The Single Life: 51% of Women Now Live Without a Spouse

A recent NY Times article found that 51% of American women say they are living without a spouse, probably for the first time in history.

(Sorry for the tiny graphic, click on it for the full-size view)

"In 2005, 51 percent of women said they were living without a spouse, up from 35 percent in 1950 and 49 percent in 2000."

Due in part to high divorce rates- in 2005, married couples became a minority of all American households- the stat isn't all that surprising. Interesting to note though, many respondents seemed to have a different view on marriage altogether, seeing it as something that "locked them down".

"A gentleman asked me to marry him and I said no. I told him, ‘I’m just beginning to fly again, I’m just beginning to be me. Don’t take that away.’”

Liberated? Bitter? Jaded? Experts say that its likely the first.

"For better or worse, women are less dependent on men or the institution of marriage,” Dr. Frey said. “Younger women understand this better, and are preparing to live longer parts of their lives alone or with nonmarried partners. For many older boomer and senior women, the institution of marriage did not hold the promise they might have hoped for, growing up in an ‘Ozzie and Harriet’ era."

"Carol Crenshaw, 57, of Roswell, Ga., was divorced in 2005 after 33 years and says she is in no hurry to marry again. “I’m in a place in my life where I’m comfortable,” said Ms. Crenshaw, who has two grown sons. “I can do what I want, when I want, with whom I want. I was a wife and a mother. I don’t feel like I need to do that again.”

The desire for independence and the notion of living free that were prevalent in the survey reflect a greater cultural trend of personal freedom and socializing in ways defined by us, and what is most suitable to our individual lives. I'd be interested to see the results of a follow-up survey with these same respondents, say in 5 years, and whether or not their mindstates have remained the same. I'm not saying the thoughts/opinions expressed aren't genuine, but I'm just curious to see if some are simply reactions to recent events (divorce, separation, etc), and which may change in the future.

Don't want to repost the whole article, by I recommend checking it out for further stats and insights into the trend.


Age said...

Very interesting research done there. The Sex and The City influence in full effect there! I can't imagine how these numbers would start reverting back to more "traditional" levels in the future though, seeing that there seems to be a definite trend of women fast becoming less dependent on their male counterparts, both emotionally and financially.

My thoughts begin to wonder what this means for generations of future populations...

Less women getting married, less children being born? Maybe not... maybe just less two parent households, but what does this imbalance between a father or mother figure have on the kids of our future?

avin said...

I don't think less marriage necessarily means less births- what's more likely is society becoming more comfortable (perhaps because we're forced to deal with it) with children born out of wedlock, and the institution of marriage moving from an obligatory "next step" to one "possible option" of many..

Its definitely an interesting trend, the traditional family model is slowly becoming a thing of the past...

Anonymous said...

Have you all noticed that the census includes all women over 15!!! No doubt there is an agenda here.