NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Majority of Americans Are Now Single

September 15, 2014

Allison Schrager of Bloomberg Businessweek reports that more than half of American adults are not married today -- up from 37 percent in 1976. What does this mean for the U.S. economy?

There are certain economic benefits to being single:

  • Because an unmarried individual is less likely to have children or own a home, he is more likely to be able to move easily and change jobs, contributing to a dynamic labor market.
  • Individuals not supporting a family are more likely to take risks and engage in entrepreneurship, as they are more easily able to cut spending.

However, there are also some economic risks:

  • Because a single individual has only his own income and health insurance upon which to rely, he can be highly sensitive to a job loss or an injury in a way that a married individual might not.
  • While a single person's ability to cut his own spending is an upside for him, it could have more negative effects on the broader economy.
  • With fewer children being born as a result of the rising single society, fewer taxpayers are left to fund growing entitlements.

According to Edward Yardeni, the economist who reported on the rising number of singles in America, the number of adults who have never been married has also risen since 1976, rising from 22.1 percent to 30.4 percent today. 

Source: Allison Schrager, "Most Americans Are Single, and They're Changing the Economy," Bloomberg Businessweek, September 12, 2014. 


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