Yes, I would love to know where all the lifelong single people are! Until now, though, I have never seen such a list. Often, if an article is going to tell you where the single people are, it is one of those “10 Best Cities for Singles” sort of thing, with information on the proportions of single men and single women. The assumption is that if you are single, you would want to move somewhere that increased your chances of “finding someone.”
Unfortunately, the article I’m going to tell you about, with great reporting about where to find lifelong single people, is marred by the same matrimaniacal logic. The site introduces its section on the geography of never-married people over 65 with this: “Active people over age 65 who… don’t want to spend their golden years alone, also have options for finding never-married partners.”
For me, a lifelong single person of a certain age, the appeal of a place with lots of other lifelong single people is very different. It would be wonderful to compare notes with other people with the experience of living your entire life as a single person. I bet many of them would be terrific friends.
Really, though, aside from being annoying and soporifically conventional, it doesn’t matter how the information is framed. I, and everyone else, can use it however we please.
The site is called AreaVibes: “we help you find the best places to live in America.” The story posted there, with the great statistics on where to find single people, is called “Mapping Marriage: A Geographic Look at Marriage in America.” If you click the link and scroll all the way down to the section near the end titled “Baby Boomer Availability,” that’s where you will find that great graphic. It tells you, for every state in the U.S., the county with the greatest proportion of people over 65 who have never been married, separately for women and men.
I guess I should not have been too surprised about the results for my state of California; San Francisco has the greatest proportion of lifelong single seniors, at 12% for the women and 16.8% for the men. Those are not spectacularly high percentages of lifelong single people, though. In New Mexico, the county of Guadalupe has a whopping 39.2% of men over 65 who have never been married. In Mississippi, 28.5% of the senior men in Jefferson county have been single all their lives. In South Dakota, Faulk county boasts the highest proportion of 65+ women who have never been married, at 27.6%. (Overall population numbers probably play a role; it is easier to get a higher percentage if there are fewer people.)
The site offers the same information for the youngest adults. In the section, “Young, Never Married People Live Where?”, you can find, for each state, the county with the greatest proportion of 20- to 34-year-olds who have never been married, tallied separately for the women and the men.
For women, the winner is Catron county in New Mexico, where 93.9% of all women between the ages of 20 and 34 have been single all their lives. For the men, East Carroll Parish in Louisiana stands out: 95.9% of the young men have never been married.
The top of the report is where you can find information about rates of marriage. The first graphic shows the changes, from 2008 to 2017, in the proportion of married people for each state. States in which the rates of marriage have decreased are shown in shades of orange. States in which marriage rates have increased are shown in darker colors, such as blue and grey. If you take a look at it, you will see a sea of orange. We have long known that rates of marriage have been decreasing for decades. This graph shows that, for the most recent decade, that trend holds true for most states in the U.S. The percentage of married people has dropped most dramatically in Nevada – 32%. The state with the biggest increase by far is New Mexico, at 48%. (What is going on in New Mexico?)
There is also a map with every county in the U.S. You can find your county (or any other one you are interested in), click on it, and see the percentage of residents who are married.
You can also find lists of the counties in each state with the most married people, and those with the most people who have never been married (averaged across women and men of all ages). In a nice change (though I doubt it was intended that way), the latter section is titled, “Want to Stay Single? Try These Counties.” The county of Lexington City, Virginia wins; 67.9% of all their adults have been single all their lives.