|Meaningful information about the
economic, social, and political concerns of unmarried Americans
has been hard to find. Republicans focus on "family
values" while Democrats chant "working families" and the federal
government spends hundreds of millions of dollars to promote
have pretty much been left out of the national political debate
and have generally been ignored by university researchers.
Public opinion polls have not shown much interest in unmarried
Although a considerable amount of
media attention has focused on single women recently, not so for
single men. It's almost as if they are invisible.
So I did a double take recently when
I came across an 83-page report entitled "The State of Unmarried
America: A Demographic, Lifestyle, and Attitudinal Overview of
America's Emerging Majority." The report, released in
February 2006, was published by Women's Voices-Women Vote and
is based on a national survey conducted by
Greenberg Quinlan Rosner.
thirds of the report focuses on unmarried women and their
concerns, I was surprised that it contained a major segment on
unmarried men. This is the first time that any major
policy report has paid attention to this largely ignored
segment of the American population.
According to the report,
unmarried men represent 19 percent of all adults some 37.6
million Americans -- and about 40 percent of all adult men in
They are a growing segment of
society. Since 1960, when unmarried men accounted for only
five percent of adult Americans, their numbers have grown to
nearly one-fifth of all adults today.
Among unmarried men, 67 percent
have never been married, 23 percent are divorced, 6 percent are
widowed, and 4 percent are separated. Only 5 percent of
unmarried men have children under 18 living at home a much
lower percentage than for married men, married women or
Unmarried men are not as
economically advantaged as their married counterparts. About 38
percent of unmarried men live in households with incomes under
$30,000 a year, compared to less than 20 percent of married men.
Only 20 percent of unmarried men have household incomes of
$75,000 or more compared to more than 33 percent of married men.
A quarter of unmarried men do not
have health insurance, more than twice the uninsured rate of
married people. Just half own their own homes 19
percent fewer than the general population.
As a whole, two-thirds of
unmarried men are less than 45 years old. Some 30 percent
are 18 to 24 years old, compared to just 2 percent of married
men. This seems to have an effect on their mobility.
Unmarried men are twice as likely
as married men to have lived in their current home for less than
six months, and only 47 percent of unmarried men have lived in
the same place for five years or more, compared to 63 percent of
Unmarried men also have fewer
ties to organized religion than married men. Only 20
percent go to church every week, compared to 36 percent of
married men and 38 percent of unmarried women. About half of
unmarried men never go to church, compared to only 31 percent of
Unmarried men are not turning out
for elections in proportion to their numbers. Perhaps this
is due to their lack of resources and fewer binding ties -- single men make
lower wages, are more likely to rent than own a home, and are
less likely to be raising children.
While only 44 percent of
unmarried men voted in 2000, about half voted in 2004. This six
percent increase in turnout among unmarried men was twice the
increase in turnout among married men.
The report suggests that
Democrats would benefit the most if they could mobilize
unmarried men and get them to the voting booth in larger
Some 61 percent of unmarried men
believe the nation is on the wrong track, compared to 45
percent of married men who hold this same view.
So what do unmarried men want the
government to do to get on the right track? Reducing the
deficit is a major priority. But so is greater government
investment in education, child care, and social security.
Now that we know more about the
demographics and concerns of unmarried men, will either party
try to win this group over to their side for the congressional
elections this year or the presidential elections 2008?
All in all, 19 million unmarried
men were not registered or did not vote in the 2004 presidential
election. The question is whether either the Democrats or
Republicans really care.
Unmarried America 2006
Thomas F. Coleman, Executive Director of Unmarried America, is an
attorney with 33 years of experience in singles' rights, family
diversity, domestic partner benefits, and marital status discrimination.
Each week he adds a new commentary to Column One: Eye on Unmarried
firstname.lastname@example.org. Unmarried America is a nonprofit
information service for unmarried employees, consumers, taxpayers, and