Single People Are Taking Over The Worldby Lauren Passell on August 24, 2012
You may have noticed that your pool of unmarried friends and friends living alone is staying the same — or perhaps is growing — especially in comparison to what those number looked like fifty years ago. And you may have thought, “that’s just because I live in New York City” or “that’s because my friends are just like that.” But the truth is, the single lifestyle is on the rise all over the world. Euromonitor, a research firm, predicts that the number of single residents will increase by 48 million by 2020, a jump of 20%, making singletons the fastest-growing household group in most parts of the world. (That’s arguably a higher growth than the Mormons will see, and their lifestyle promotes an increased population, not decreases it!) This grown of single people worries some people.
For one, the fact that one-person households have a bigger carbon footprint concerns some. As does the fact that singles have fewer children, putting more pressure on the young to support the older population when the time comes. Single people, too, are considered more vulnerable (=costly) to society, due to the fact that coupled people reap the psychological and health benefits of having each other.
Although the numbers of singles appears to be increasing worldwide, the reasons behind these numbers are quite different, which makes the whole thing super interesting.
In Brazil, the reason is thought to be rapid industrialization. In Japan, women aren’t willing to give up their careers. In Iran, women are putting to use newly relaxed divorce laws and choosing education over marriage. In China and India, the favoring of male babies has led to a disproportionate amount of grown men, and a generation of bachelors. The opposite is true in African-American culture. One in nine black men between the ages of 19 and 34 are in prison, narrowing the pool for black women who (for one reason or another) do not generally date out of their race. The scientists are mum on why there are so many single Antarcticians, but — pins and needles.
Eric Klinenberg, a sociologist at NYU and author of “Going Solo”, says there is nothing to worry about. He points out that “living alone, being alone, and feeling lonely are three different social conditions.” Single people, he said, are more likely to spend time with friends, volunteer, and pursue their own goals. And we all know that single is a ridiculously vague term. Obviously it puts all unmarried people into the same bucket, which doesn’t seem fair or accurate. And finally, research says that fewer marriages means better marriages. The ones that survive are stronger than ever. So perhaps instead of panicking, we should all take a sigh of relief, be happy more people are doing what they want to do, and watch what happens. I’ll bring the popcorn.