all the single ladies

There Aren’t Enough Eligible Men to Go Around, and Nobody Cares

Photo: HBO/Courtesy Everett Collection

A Pew Research Center census analysis finds America less married than ever. In 2012, one in five adults over age 25 had never been married, compared with one in ten in 1960. It’s not that we forgot to get married. We’re just being nominally picky.

According to Pew, 78 percent of unmarried women “place a great deal of importance on finding someone who has a steady job” — a population in decline. The number of employed men ages 25 to 34 per 100 women of the same age “dropped from 139 in 1960 to 91 in 2012,” says Pew, even though there are more 25- to 34-year-old men than women. So, no, you are not imagining it: There is a quantifiable shortage of eligible men.

“If all never-married young women in 2012 wanted to find a young employed man who had also never been married, 9% of them would fail, simply because there are not enough men in the target group.”

The good news is that, increasingly, no one cares about getting married. Two-thirds of people “under thirty think society is just as well off if people have priorities other than marriage and children.” And why would someone prioritize marriage if it means underwriting another person, who might impregnate you with more unemployed people, compromising your ability to provide for yourself? Maybe marriage would look a little more appealing accompanied by universal child care.

Pew: There Aren’t Enough Men to Go Around