Older Single People: Here’s What We Know

According to the prevailing cultural narratives, single people in later life have two big things going against them: They are single and they are old. Now focus on the older single women and you have the trifecta: They are single, they are old, and they are women! If conventional wisdom got its way, they would be doing terribly. But guess what? They are not. There are real challenges, for women and men, to aging in an ageist and singlist society. Considering what they are up against, it is remarkable how well older single people are doing.

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Lifelong Single People: Here’s What We Know

The number of single people has been growing for more than a half-century. Of all Americans who are unmarried, the biggest proportion of them, by far, are people who have never been married. Yet not much research has focused specifically on this group. Maybe that’s in part because the percentage of people who stayed single all their life has, in the past, been fairly small. But that may be changing.

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My Letter to the Editor of TIME on its Latest Matrimanical and Singlist Cover Story

Time cover, how to stay marr

It is June 13, 2016. The year is not even halfway over, but Time magazine just published its 37th story about marriage. Below is the letter I sent to the editor of Time, at letters@time.com. I also wrote two much more extensive critiques as blog posts: (1) At Psychology Today: “What’s wrong with telling married people to stay married?” (2) At Psych Central: “Why is Time magazine shaming single people and their children?

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Part 2: Getting Married Makes You Happier? Again, No

The_Science_of_Marri_Cover_for_Kindle, 2-28-15

[This post was originally published at Psychology Today. I just discovered that it disappeared! I have no idea why, but I thought I’d just republish it at my own site where I have control over what appears and disappears.]

In my previous post, I explained why no study has ever shown definitively that getting married causes people to become happier – and no study ever will. Here, I will critique the research (an unpublished working paper by Grover and Helliwell) that set off the latest round of matrimaniacal claims that we single people would be happier if only we would get married. The claims the authors are making are unapologetically causal: They think their research shows that getting married causes people to become happier. It doesn’t. The very premise of their claim (that married people are happier, and we just need to figure out if marriage is causing married people’s greater happiness) is undermined by some of their own findings – not that you would have read much about those results in any of the many media stories gleefully declaring a win for Team Marriage.

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What We Really Know About Single Life

Marriage_vs._Single__Cover_for_Kindle, 2-28-15The_Science_of_Marri_Cover_for_Kindle, 2-28-15

 

 

 

Every time I learn about a new claim that getting married makes people happier or healthier or more connected or live longer (and all the rest), I go to the original research report to see what the findings really did say. The media — and sadly, many social scientists — routinely get it wrong. No, getting married does not cause  you to become lastingly happier or healthier or better off in any way than if you stayed single (well, you do get more money because of all the laws and practices that benefit married people and discriminate against singles).

Here (below), you can find links to all my critiques of these studies. I’ll keep adding more as new claims hit the media that I need to debunk. I’ve also put together 2 books of my writings explaining why all those Marriage Wins claims are so wrong. Marriage vs. Single Life: How Science and the Media Got It So Wrong includes a chapter previously available only in an expensive edited volume, a new paper that is the most powerful and comprehensive explanation of what the research does and does not show about the implications of getting married, plus 39 other brief chapters (many from my blogs). Because I think that new powerful and comprehensive paper is so important, I have made it into a stand-alone book (together with an introduction) in The Science of Marriage: What We Know That Just Isn’t So. (Both are available both as paperbacks and as ebooks. You can read more about them here.) My first book, Singled Out, also includes discussions and explanations of what’s wrong with the claims of married people’s superiority.

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Check Your Marital Privilege

checklist[This article is co-authored – in alphabetical order – by Lisa Arnold, Rachel Buddeberg, Christina Campbell, and Bella DePaulo. We are cross-posting it on all of our blogs.]

“White privilege” and “male privilege” are familiar concepts in our cultural conversations. There is, however, another vast swath of unearned privileges that have gone largely unrecognized, even though they unfairly advantage about half of the adult population in the United States. We’re talking about marital privileges. People who marry enjoy social, cultural, economic, and political advantages that single people do not, simply because they are married.

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