Media Articles

Candidates as Wedding Dresses: Why Does Only This Ad Get Mocked?

Monday, October 20th, 2014

shutterstock_109777886Single women are not evenhanded when it comes to their political preferences. They vote overwhelmingly for Democrats. Republicans have noticed, and in an attempt to attract more of them to the GOP, they created a series of ads. I wonder if they thought long and hard about what kind of message would appeal to single women voters. What they came up with was pure, unadulterated matrimania.

Brittany, a single woman trying on wedding dresses, is the star of the ad. The different dresses are described with the names of different candidates. Brittany loves “The Rick Scott” (Republican candidate) but her mom, the goat of the ad, urges her daughter to go for “The Charlie Crist” (the Democratic candidate) because she knows best. In the end, Brittany and her friends are popping champagne corks in celebration. It all worked out, we learn, because Brittany said yes to Rick Scott. (Different variations of the exact same ads are used in other races, simply substituting the names of the relevant candidates.)


What Would Happen If Every School Had a Leader Like This?

Friday, October 17th, 2014

shutterstock_218773501If you were a school teacher or principal or a college president, what do you think you could say to your students that might really matter?

There are probably lots of good answers to that question. I found one that struck me as particularly impressive in a New Yorker profile of the person who has been president of Bard College for 40 years, Leon Botstein.

Botstein visited the members of the Bard conservatory orchestra just as they were about to depart for a European tour. Here’s how writer Alice Gregory described what Botstein had to say:


Escape from Loneliness: Is Marriage the Answer?

Monday, October 6th, 2014

Some of the prevailing beliefs about single people seem so intuitive that it is hard to take seriously the possibility that they are just stereotypes. One of those is that single people are lonely, and that getting married takes care of that. After all, isn’t it obvious that married people “have someone” whereas single people do not?

Over the past decade, studies have been piling up suggesting something quite different. Representative national surveys have shown that single people are more likely to visit, support, contact, and advise their parents and siblings than are married people. Singles are also more likely to encourage, socialize with, and help their friends and neighbors.

The results of studies comparing people of different marital statuses at one point in time are just suggestive. We can’t know from such “cross-sectional” research whether any differences in social ties are really about marital status or about something else connected to marital status (such as age or education or personality or, really, just about anything). Better studies follow the same people over time as, for example, they get married or get unmarried. Do their social connections change?


Are Married People Really Outnumbered? Does It Matter?

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

shutterstock_208650805Recently, Bloomberg News declared that for the first time, more than half of American adults are single – they are either divorced or widowed or they have always been single. In numbers, that amounts to 124.6 million people; in percentages, it is 50.2 percent. The report inspired an outpouring of “what does it all mean” opinion pieces.

Around the same time, the Census Bureau was releasing its annual “Facts for Features” report to mark Unmarried and Single Americans Week, September 21-27. That report claimed that 105 million people, or 44 percent of all American adults, are single.

So which is it? And does it matter?


Caring about Children and Their Future: Is It a Parent Thing?

Monday, September 29th, 2014

shutterstock_161985149In the lead-up to the Climate Change Summit, a famous actor (I don’t remember who; I’m not good with celebrities) was asked why he was so committed to the cause. He said it was because he had children and he cared about their future.

I’ve heard those kinds of comments repeatedly, and not just around the topic of climate change. With regard to just about any issue that unfolds over time, parents step forward to say that they care about it because of their kids.


Record Number of Americans Will Stay Single for Life

Friday, September 26th, 2014

shutterstock_150476522The most recent report from the Pew Research Center offered a remarkably important, data-based prediction:

“…when today’s young adults reach their mid-40s to mid-50s, a record high share (25%) is likely to have never been married.”

Think about that. There will be a time, in the not-too-distant future, when one out of every four American adults, at age 50, will have been single all their lives! That is a huge number.


To Your Health! 4 Ways Singles Have More to Celebrate

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

shutterstock_167694947The third full week in September is Unmarried and Single Americans Week. The Census Bureau has been marking the occasion every year with a special press release rounding up the latest facts and figures. Sadly, most news organizations just ignore the occasion. Those who do give it a nod, such as the Washington Post, mostly just reiterate the key points from the Census Bureau – for example, that 105 million Americans, 18 and older, are single (either divorced or widowed or always-single).

Over at Health.com, though, Amanda MacMillan did something more ambitious: She rounded up 7 empirically-documented ways in which being single affects your health. Here, according to the article, are 4 ways in which singles have more to celebrate, health-wise, than married people do:


The Power of Single People: 8 Ways Businesses Are Finally Recognizing It

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

shutterstock_134465504What is perhaps the best known marketing and communications company, JWT (previously J. Walter Thompson), just published a report about family that would have been unthinkable just a few decades ago.

Among the categories of family in the report were:

  • Kids optional
  • Solo living
  • Pets as family
  • Friends as family
  • Same-sex families

The Best of Single Life

Sunday, September 14th, 2014

single_lifeAs the number of single people continues to grow, now reaching somewhere around half of all adults in the U.S., it is getting harder and harder to insist that all these single people are sad and lonely and bemoaning their status. There are now well over 100 million single people. (I’ll address the question of whether there are really more single people than married ones in the U.S. in a later post.) It is time to stop assuming that they all want to know what they did “wrong” to end up single or how they can be “fixed up,” as if they are somehow broken. Sure, some people would like to be married. But plenty actually love their single lives and intend to remain single. I’ve named this blog, “Single at Heart,” after those people.

Even the single people who eventually want to marry are rarely just wallowing in self-pity about their single status. Increasingly, they want to live their single lives fully and joyfully, and take advantage of every opportunity that single life offers.

So what is it that single life does offer to those open to embracing it?


The State of Singles in the U.S., for a Publication Reporting on Singles Around the World

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

shutterstock_145434979In the Netherlands, a publication called Individual and Society is about to publish its 100th issue. They have a theme – the state of single people around the world. They have asked people in different countries to write brief overviews of single people in their country, which they will translate into Dutch. They asked me to write about singles in the U.S. Below is the first draft of what I submitted to them.

How Many Adults in the United States Are Not Married?

The number of single people in the United States has been growing for decades. In 1970, only 28 percent of all American adults, 18 and older, were single (divorced, widowed, or always-single). By 2013, that number had increased to 44 percent.

Most single people, 62 percent, have always been single. Another 24 percent are divorced, and the other 14 percent are widowed.

How Do Single (Unmarried) Americans Live?

The vast majority of unmarried Americans are not living with a romantic partner. Of the 105 million Americans 18 and older who were not married in 2013, only 14 million of them were cohabiting.

The popularity of living alone has increased greatly over time. In 1970, 17 percent of all American households were comprised of one person. By 2013, 27 percent of all households were 1-person households; that equates to 34 million Americans living alone.

Of the 105 million unmarried Americans, only 34 million live alone and only 14 million live with a romantic partner. That means that most single Americans live with other people such as friends, family members, roommates, or some combination.

What Is the Political Status of Single People in the United States?

Single people are targets of systematic discrimination in the United States. Just on the federal level, there are more than 1,000 laws affording benefits and protections only to people who are legally married. Many of these are tax benefits. Single people are also disadvantaged in their old-age pensions (Social Security). Single people cannot give their Social Security benefits to anyone else when they die; and, no other person can give their Social Security benefits to …


 

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