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National Unmarried & Single Americans Week

Posted by Ernest on September 8, 2012 at 11:15 PM Comments comments (33)

September 16 - 22, 2012

Larry James

It is estimated that there are 82 million single and unmarried adults in the United States. National Singles Week is celebrated the third full week in September (Sunday through Saturday). This is your week to C-E-L-E-B-R-A-T-E the lives and contributions of unmarried and single Americans!

National Singles Week was started by the Buckeye Singles Council in Ohio in the 1980s. When that organization folded, the promotion of National Unmarried & Single Americans Week was taken over by Janet Jacobsen, Scottsdale, AZ, coordinator of the National Singles Press Association.

The week is now widely observed during the third full week of September as "Unmarried and Single Americans Week," an acknowledgment that many unmarried Americans do not identify with the word "single" because they are parents, have partners or are widowed.

There is no shame in being single.

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Single Adults in Brazil Respond to Blood Shortage

Posted by Ernest on September 8, 2012 at 10:40 PM Comments comments (2)

The public affairs committees and single adults of two Brazilian stakes—the Campo Grande Brazil Stake and the Campo Grande Brazil Monte Líbano Stake—recently organized a blood drive to help relieve a shortage of blood in area hospitals.

The drive, held on Saturday, February 18, was part of the second single adult conference in Campo Grande, which took place from February 18 to February 21, 2012. As they have done in the past, the stakes joined forces with Face Solidário, a humanitarian aid-focused Facebook group that fosters unity as the main tool for human development, according to the group’s online description. Hemosul, an organization focusing on hemotherapy and hematology in Mato Grosso do Sul, provided all the necessary equipment and personnel for the drive.

The blood drive focused on participation from single adults and young single adults from the Church but also encouraged the participation of people from the community. Among those who participated was Valdeclecio Rodrigues, 22, a member of the Universitário Ward of the Monte Líbano Stake.

“I am happy to help others, and grateful for the opportunity created by the leaders of the Church,” Brother Rodrigues said.

More than 100 people participated in the drive, which was significant considering that the drive was held during Carnival.

Maria Jose, a staff member of Hemosul, said that Carnival usually minimizes the number of blood donations received during this time of the year. “Saturday [February 18] was special because Hemosul was filled with donors,” she said.

Michele do N. N. C. Medina, a single adult leader in the Campo Grande stake, commented on how meaningful this kind of service is to single adults.

“This kind of action and how much difference it can make in the lives of those who will receive the blood are very important to young single adults,” she said. “We are not only donating blood—we are donating life!”

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Why the jobs recovery favors single workers

Posted by Ernest on September 8, 2012 at 10:25 PM Comments comments (0)

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- As the economy slowly recovers, single people are finding jobs much faster than their married peers.

Single men and women lost about 5 million jobs during the financial crisis, and have since gained back 90% of them, according to the Labor Department. That's not too shabby, especially considering the jobs recovery has been so slow.

But married people, who make up a slightly larger part of the adult population, lost even more jobs and have gained far fewer back. Of the 6 million jobs they lost, they've recouped only about 22%.

Could employers be favoring single workers?

That's unlikely, economists say. The real story probably lies in other demographic factors.

The first clue is the timing. Singles slowly started recovering jobs in 2009, whereas married people didn't see a recovery begin until 2011.

That could be of their own choosing, according to University of Chicago Economist Bruce Meyer. He suggests that in dual-earner households, married people have slightly more freedom to take their time in searching for a new job that's a good fit.

"It may be that among many married couples, it's less crucial that both work," Meyer said. "If one is laid off and the other is working, the unemployed spouse can afford to take a while to look for a job."

A single person who has no other financial support, probably can't afford to be as picky.

The other clue is the age of new workers.

People under age 35 have been gaining far more jobs than those in the 35 to 55 age range. Younger workers are more likely to be single than those over 35.

"Age could have a lot to do with it," said Betsey Stevenson, economics professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School." In this recession, younger people have been much more likely to experience unemployment, but they've also been returning to work much quicker."

One reason is that young, single people are more likely to take low wage positions or move to a new location in order to take a job. That flexibility opens up more job opportunities -- even if they're not necessarily better ones.

Almost half of adults under age 35 have taken jobs they don't want, just to pay the bills, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center.

The same study showed one in five have also postponed getting married because of the economy.

That could be another reason why singles are gaining jobs far faster than married couples. The number of new marriages in the United States declined 5% in 2010 alone, according to the Pew Research Center. That decline probably continued into 2012, given population numbers from the Labor Department's monthly survey.

Those figures show the single population is growing at more than double the speed of the married population. Should that continue, single adults will soon account for a larger share of the U.S. population than married couples for the first time on record.

"At first glance, it looks like singles are doing much better. They are getting more jobs," said American University economist Robert Lerman." But on closer inspection, the real issue is there simply are a lot more single people."

That said, the unemployment rate is still lower for married workers, and it's been that way since the Labor Department started tracking marriage statistics in 1955. Perhaps this recovery will level the playing field.

First Published: August 15, 2012: 5:29 PM ET

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Churches cope with growing single adult population

Posted by Ernest on September 8, 2012 at 10:20 PM Comments comments (0)

According to the Pew Research Center, the number of married adults in the United States is at an all-time low and declining. In 1960, 72 percent of adults 18 and over were married, today that number is only 51 percent.

 The shift in demographics has forced churches to change how they reach out to this growing population.

According to Andy Stanley of North Point Ministries, the primary mission of Buckhead church is not to help single adults find a spouse.

"I don't feel like the church's responsibility is to go on a campaign to get single people to get married. I think our responsibility is to say ‘hey, where are you in life and what can we do to help,'" said Stanley.

He says history has shown that Buckhead Church, which is one of seven campuses of North Point Ministries in the Atlanta area, is in fact a popular place to meet that special someone.

"When we started Buckhead, it was about 60-70 percent single. That has shifted. In fact, we've just had to create more space for babies. Because, again people plug into a church, they meet someone. They get married. They stay there," said Stanley.

That trend stands in stark contrast to society as a whole, where the number of single adults is on the rise.

"The last census did show that singles ages 25-34 actually outnumber married adults in that same age range by just a slight margin," said Ashley Reccord of is a website for singles looking to date or marry within the Christian faith, and according to Reccord, there are several factors attributing to the growth of the single adult population.

"[The] divorce rate or just people waiting a little longer to get married. So many people now say I want to get focused on my career, or I want to get past my 20's to get financially set before I'm getting married," said Reccord.

Buckhead is an independent or non-denominational church and according to Stanley, makes it more nimble when adjusting to societal trends. He's even noticed a big difference when it comes to pre-marital counseling.

"Probably 50 to 60 percent of the couples that come to us for that counseling are already living together. So again that's a little bit of a change in terms of what churches are dealing with. And we've adjusted to that. We expect that. That's just the world we live in," said Stanley.

And though Stanley says the message doesn't change, the approach continues to evolve as society does.

"There are so many people in our churches who did meet in our church. And when they tell their story, they came in as singles, they always say when I came to church they say I wasn't looking for anybody, and I'm thinking no, you were single, you were looking for somebody. And I think that's okay," said Stanley.

Stanley says that they have learned that every few years they have to re-engineer their singles ministry in terms of attracting singles, connecting singles, and getting them involved in the community.

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A conversation with Cris Carpenter

Posted by Ernest on May 29, 2012 at 8:15 AM Comments comments (0)

DAUGHTER OF MISSIONARIES shares her faith — and finds a new family — while serving on an all-Brazilian mission team.

At age 27, Cris Carpenter is serving Christ while she rediscovers her roots in the country where she was born.

Her parents, Bob and Donna Carpenter, served as missionaries in Brasilia, the capital of Brazil, during the 1980s. Cris Carpenter enrolled in Abilene Christian University in Texas and, while working on a psychology degree, went on a mission trip with Let’s Start Talking. The church-supported ministry helps non-native speakers improve their conversational English skills using the Bible.

She traveled to Natal, a city of about 1 million souls in northern Brazil. She picked up some Portuguese and fell in love with the Church of Christ there. She quickly accepted the invitation from two Brazilian couples — Roberto and Marisa Signoretti and Osmildo and Marta Braga — to do an 18-month internship with the church.

That 18 months has become four and a half years. Churches of Christ in Texas and several individuals support Cris Carpenter’s work, which includes oversight of an English outreach ministry. She is particularly fond of her Monday night bilingual Bible study, where she examines the Gospel of Luke alongside a dentist, two hair stylists, a security guard and a candy vendor.

“They know that, while I care that they learn and practice their English, I care more that they learn and internalize what their lessons are about,” she wrote on her blog,

You are a single female serving on a team with two Brazilian couples who are old enough to be your parents. What is required to make that relationship work?

The same that is required to make any relationship work — respect. I deeply respect my teammates for the sacrifices they have made for the sake of sharing the Gospel in Natal, and I love them as my family in Christ.

They are the most hardworking people I know, and I admire their dedication to God’s ministry in Natal.

Since none of us are native “Natalenses,” the word “family” has taken on a whole new meaning as we have adopted each other, not only as family in Christ, but as let’s-spend-our-holidays-together family. They love me as a daughter and often like to treat me as such — lots of advice and home-cooked meals.

But when we gather around our meeting table, they are eager to hear what opinions, ideas and input I have to share. They also respect me as a fellow servant in ministry.

What are the greatest challenges for you as a single woman on the mission field?

Even as part of such a vibrant church community, I still experience a lot of loneliness, not having an automatic family support system at home like the others do. Skype and e-mail are a tremendous blessing but often don’t bridge the distance between my family and me as well as I would like for them to.

Another challenge is one that is not specific to the mission field, but something I suspect many single Christians face in churches worldwide — being pigeon-holed into singles groups and ministries. I think singles and married couples have a lot to share with and learn from each other.

Many of my friends with whom I identify the most are married, but it seems there is an unspoken rule that once the Bible study starts we should split up into two groups. I would love to see this change.

What have you learned about sharing the Gospel?

That it’s much more complex than simply passing along information. Sharing the single-most meaningful aspect of my life with another person requires a lot of love and vulnerability.

When I share the Gospel with someone, I have to be prepared to follow through with that person until the end, through questions, through crises, through joys and victories. I have to be vulnerable enough to allow that person to see Christ at work in me, which at times can be easier than others.

I’ve learned that I must meet each person where they are at that point in their beliefs and work from there, trying to move too quickly can be painful and damaging.

I believe that God grows the seed inside a person’s heart, but I also believe he entrusts us with the responsibility to stick around and make sure it’s getting plenty of water and sunlight.

What advice do you have for those working in short-term mission efforts?

Go with the attitude and spirit of a learner. Even if the purpose of the trip is for you to “bless,” “encourage” or “teach” people, go prepared to learn. Learn words in the language, learn about their cuisine, learn why the local Christians take communion the way they do, learn their greetings, learn what they believe about God, and learn what they are excited to teach you.

Going prepared to learn will help in your adjustment and any culture shock, first of all, but it will also make you more approachable to the ones to whom you will minister.

The impact you make — and your own spiritual growth as a result — will increase the more open you are to learning about them. And your hosts will thank you.

What would you say to other single women considering mission work?

John 12:26 is a verse that has been very meaningful to me in ministry: “If any of you wants to serve me, then follow me. Then you’ll be where I am, ready to serve at a moment’s notice. The Father will honor and reward anyone who serves me” (from “The Message”).

If God is calling you to the mission field, follow him.

When I first came to Natal I did not feel prepared or equipped to undertake the task in the least, but I felt called. I trusted that God would provide, prepare, equip and bless. And he has, in ways I never could have imagined.

Moving by myself to a place where I would be the only American was terrifying. I still can’t really believe I went through with it. But God has rewarded that leap of faith by blessing me with a loving church family, a fulfilling ministry and an ever-growing desire to do exactly what he asks of me.

The Single Person's Guide to Retirement

Posted by Ernest on January 4, 2012 at 9:05 PM Comments comments (0)

The single life has its advantages — not the least of which is freedom from certain family financial obligations. If there are no children, for instance, singles may not need to focus on saving for college or leaving an estate. But they also face very specific financial challenges — especially when it comes to planning for retirement.

With more and more people delaying or forgoing marriage, a new generation is approaching solo retirement, and for them a combination of conventional wisdom and tailored strategies works best to help manage the challenges of saving on a single income and passing an estate on to heirs who may not be immediate family members. If you are single, here are four things you can do right now to help ensure that you can enjoy your lifestyle well beyond your working years and that your estate is passed on to those you care most about.


Dream Early and Often

Having a vision is the most important step toward preparing for retirement, but single adults tend to spend less time planning for their financial futures than their married counterparts, according to Andrew Heiges, CFP, a director in Merrill Lynch's Retirement Product Development and Innovation Group. That's particularly true if there are no children, since creating a safety net for them (or paying for braces) hasn't been part of the daily financial picture.

Still, that doesn't mean single adults don't have other goals. While married people often plan their retirement around their families, singles may want to travel, become involved in volunteer work or start their own business. "Since you tend to spend more in retirement on these types of activities, that will play into the target amount you'll want to save," Heiges says.

Make Saving a Habit

A regular savings and investment strategy is key to any retirement, but single people face some unique costs, which they must compensate for. According to a 2009 report from the American Academy of Actuaries, one single person in retirement spends 70% to 75% of what a couple spend. So on a per-person basis, the cost of living for singles is 40% to 50% higher than that for married people.1

That same math means that during peak earning years, singles may have less discretionary income to put toward savings than their dual-income counterparts. This is an even greater concern for women, who tend to earn less over their lifetime than men and also tend to live longer. "And with a single wage, any disruption in earnings through disability or job loss will have a greater impact on retirement saving than if you have a dual income to rely upon," Heiges adds.

Build a Safety Net

Without a spouse's income to lean on, singles should carefully construct their own financial backstop. That starts with an emergency fund to carry you through a crisis. The rule of thumb is to keep three to six months' worth of living expenses in short-term savings, but Heiges recommends bumping that up to between nine and 12 months' worth.

If you don't have a family to worry about, you may not need as much life insurance, Heiges says, but you should consider having both disability and long-term-care insurance. Most employers offer short-term disability in the form of sick leave. However, you still need to consider long-term disability coverage to fill gaps in income — and retirement savings — if you're out of work for several months. Long-term-care insurance should also play into the picture; it helps pay for professional care if you become ill and need assistance performing day-to-day tasks such as bathing, dressing and eating.

If you own a house, Heiges recommends opening a home-equity line of credit as an added cushion. As with disability and long-term-care insurance, you need to set up that line of credit before you need it, while you are still healthy and have a steady income. If you wait too long, you might not qualify.

Get Your Legal House in Order

Spouses already have legal standing to intercede if a partner becomes incapacitated. But if you're single, you'll need to have a health care directive and designate someone to assume powers of attorney for your finances and health. Many singles sign these powers over to siblings or other relatives, but it's also important to consider geography. If you don't have family living nearby, a close friend or even your lawyer may be a better choice.

Married couples also enjoy spousal inheritance rights, which come with a broad range of benefits that single people can't replicate, including unlimited estate-tax exemptions. Nonspouse beneficiaries don't have that luxury, so you need to consider the estate-tax implications of anything you want to pass on to your heirs. "Trusts and other legacy-planning tools can help you pass your assets on efficiently and ensure that they are distributed the way you want," Heiges says.

Speak with a Merrill Lynch Financial Advisor today to make sure that the life you've planned in retirement reflects the financial freedom you've worked hard to achieve.

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That's Odd: On Bias Against Single Pastors

Posted by Ernest on December 28, 2011 at 10:55 AM Comments comments (0)

A friend wrote me about how I would respond to the recent New York Times article chronicling the frustration of singles pursing pastoral positions. I probably came to his mind because I am both single and a pastor. I am completing 14 years as senior pastor at Bethel Church—a church that bucked the apparent bias and took a risk on a 29-year-old single fellow. It has proved to be a great ministry partnership. I am no crusader for singleness in ministry, and I address this subject with a fair amount of shyness. Truthfully, I would very much like a wife and family and have prayed consistently since I was 18 for God’s provision and gift.

I am well aware of the cultural expectations for marriage and ministry, both here and in other parts of the world. I recall candid discussions in Sierra Leone and Romania where men are not allowed to be pastors without a wife. An unmarried American pastor teaching and preaching there was a source of some concern and amusement. I have experienced countless moments of bewilderment and awkwardness from others when I answer their inquiry about my wife and children by pointing to the lack of a ring on my finger. The U.S. evangelical church’s perspective is well summarized by an experience in North Dakota a few weeks ago. I was enjoying a visit with some former members of our church when their 6-year-old daughter whispered to her mom, “Is he married?” She replied, “No.” The little girl proclaimed loudly, “That’s odd!”

Not a bad summary of the attitude The New York Times highlighted when it comes to singles in pastoral ministry: “That’s odd!”

Should It Be?

The question is, should it be? From the perspective of the New Testament, it is hard to see why. As is often pointed out, the head and hero of the church is a single adult male. Jesus obviously gets a Messianic pass and is not often factored into the “oughtness” of married pastoral leadership. Yet the early church was dominated by apparently single men (at least when the manuscripts were written): John the Baptist, Paul, Luke, Silas, Barnabas, Timothy, and Titus. When this list is combined with a single Savior, we should at least be in a position of neutrality on the matter.

It would be hard to see Paul as neutral, at least in respect to his own singleness in 1 Corinthians 7. He speaks to the single man’s freedom from anxieties (7:32) and freedom to serve with “undivided devotion” (7:35). The married man (pastor) has responsibilities that “divide” his attention. This is balanced by Paul’s affirmation that marital responsibilities are good and holy and also a “gift” (7:6). Paul teaches neither singleness nor marriage is inherently more spiritual or holy, although the freedoms of singleness lead him to say, “I wish that all men were as I am” (7:8). Paul’s basic starting point is that marital status in the kingdom is spiritually neutral, each with its own benefits and responsibilities.

He goes on to say that marriage is a category that, along with the world, is passing away:

This is what I mean, brothers: the appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away (1 Cor 7:29-31, ESV).

Here is where today’s bias against single pastors betrays an eschatological weakness. It projects a perspective of kingdom priorities that will not stand the test of time. Jesus points out this same failure when the Pharisees tested him with the scenario of a woman who married seven brothers. “Who’s wife will she be after the resurrection?” Jesus’ reply is simple, “In the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage” (Matt. 22:28). Marriage in the future kingdom is not even a category of consideration. I think our ecclesiology could use a little eschatology. The resurrection will change our thinking in many ways. Human identity as married or single is most certainly one of them.

A Wonderful Blessing

Too often the debate feels the need to pick one or the other. Does God prefer married pastors or single ones? I affirm aspects of what Al Mohler recently blogged on this. There are practicalities about marriage and ministry that advantage the married pastor in some categories. Every married pastor would affirm that a godly wife is a wonderful blessing both personally and pastorally. We should recognize and celebrate that a married pastor’s marriage is a tremendous asset in both his personal growth into holiness and the resources it generates for shepherding a flock.

But we must also recognize that a pastor’s singleness is equally valuable in different ways. Speaking from experience, singleness has its own anvil on which God shapes character and pastoral gravitas. In addition, single pastors have some tremendous gifts to share with their congregations. When I speak of my loneliness, how many hearts leap with hope identifying with my trial? When my voice quivers as I describe life lived with unmet and unfulfilled expectations, what heart can’t hear the echo? A normal red-blooded, sexual, single, Christian man battling all the normal desires yet pursing contentment in Christ is a living sermon that Jesus alone is sufficient. These strengths, combined with the greater energy and time that single pastors can pour into their churches, should lead us to conclude that singleness ought not be viewed as a negative. If Paul was serving on the search committee, I think he’d argue for it as a positive.

Arguments that cast Paul as prioritizing marriage in ministry wrongly make the helpful reality of marriage a biblical preference. It is important to note that the pastoral qualifications in 1 Timothy 3 were written by a single apostle (perhaps a widow or even a divorcee but nevertheless single). Would Paul write qualifications that handicapped himself as a pastor? Further, we have no indication that Timothy and Titus were married. Yet they are charged with identifying and laying hands on elders who would serve under their leadership. It seems that what is good for the apostolic goose should be good enough for the pastoral gander.

Apostolic Logic

Finally, if we affirm that 1 Timothy 3 teaches that marriage is a near requirement for pastors/elders, in order to be consistent we would need to require a pastor to have children as well. Taken one step further, he would have to have more than one child since “children” is plural. This is all unnecessary and unwarranted. Paul is simply describing how a pastor/elder must be faithful to his wife IF he is married, and he is describing the quality of a pastor’s parenting and leadership IF he has children.

At my 10th anniversary, Bethel Church very graciously threw me a big celebration. It was one of the high moments in my life. One of the points emphasized that night was how my singleness had been a blessing to the church. One faithful member told me, “I selfishly hope you stay single so you can stay focused on us.” There was kindness in her words and some pretty good pastoral theology, too. We would do well to cherish all of God’s gifts to the church, including single men called by God and gifted by the Holy Spirit to shepherd a local congregation.

Steve DeWitt serves as senior pastor of Bethel Church in Crown Point, Indiana. He blogs at It's All About Him.

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3 Mistakes Singles Make with Their Money

Posted by Ernest on December 27, 2011 at 11:40 PM Comments comments (0)

If you’re among the more than 99 million single people in the United States, it’s vital for you to have your finances in order. Without a spouse to pick up the slack, you could be left in a financially vulnerable position if you were to lose your job. As we head into National Unmarried and Single Americans Week (held from Sept. 18 to Sept. 24), here are three mistakes singles make with their money.

Mistake 1: Having inadequate insurance—or none at all. Just because you haven’t had a cold in five years doesn’t mean you don’t need health insurance. Your health could change at a moment’s notice. Why take the risk of having a major accident or unexpected health issue and then being saddled with a hospital bill that could take years to pay off? In addition, singles should have long- and short-term disability insurance. If you are unable to work due to a disability, you’ll need to have your salary covered.

Mistake 2: Not having emergency savings. While married couples need to have at least six to eight months stashed in an emergency savings fund, singles need to have at least 12 months of expenses saved. Why? Because you alone are responsible for your financial survival, and the impact of not having enough saved in case of an emergency could be much more serious. For example, if you’re married and can’t find steady employment after an extended period of time, you’ll still have some financial support from your spouse when it comes to basics like groceries and mortgage payments. If you’re single and run out of money because you can’t find steady employment, you’re in a much tougher spot. It could get to the point where you can no longer feed yourself and keep a roof over your head. Prepare for the worst case scenario—just in case.

Mistake 3: Not having an estate plan. Estate rules vary depending on your state of residence. However, in most cases, if you’re single with children and die without a will (dying without a will is known in legal terms as intestate), your estate would be split evenly among your children. But if you’re single wit no children and you die intestate, your estate would be automatically distributed to your parents (if they are still alive). However, you may not want this arrangement. Perhaps you want your estate distributed to a favorite uncle or aunt who really needs the money. If you didn’t specify that in your will, you’re out of luck. There’s no guarantee that your parents will distribute the money as you had intended. Depending on state laws, if a married person dies intestate, all of their property could go to their spouse. So regardless of marital status, it’s important to clearly outline your wishes after death so that your property is passed on to the appropriate people.

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Barely Half of U.S. Adults Are Married �?? A Record Low

Posted by Ernest on December 27, 2011 at 1:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Barely half of all adults in the United States—a record low—are currently married, and the median age at first marriage has never been higher for brides (26.5 years) and grooms (28.7), according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census data.

In 1960, 72% of all adults ages 18 and older were married; today just 51% are. If current trends continue, the share of adults who are currently married will drop to below half within a few years. Other adult living arrangements—including cohabitation, single-person households and single parenthood—have all grown more prevalent in recent decades.

The Pew Research analysis also finds that the number of new marriages in the U.S. declined by 5% between 2009 and 2010, a sharp one-year drop that may or may not be related to the sour economy.

The United States is by no means the only nation where marriage has been losing “market share” for the past half century. The same trend has taken hold in most other advanced post-industrial societies, and these long-term declines appear to be largely unrelated to the business cycle. The declines have persisted through good economic times and bad.

In the United States, the declines have occurred among all age groups, but are most dramatic among young adults. Today, just 20% of adults ages 18 to 29 are married, compared with 59% in 1960. Over the course of the past 50 years, the median age at first marriage has risen by about six years for both men and women.

It is not yet known whether today’s young adults are abandoning marriage or merely delaying it. Even at a time when barely half of the adult population is married, a much higher share— 72%—have been married at least once. However, this “ever married” share is down from 85% in 1960.

Public attitudes about the institution of marriage are mixed. Nearly four-in-ten Americans say marriage is becoming obsolete, according to a Pew Research survey in 2010.1 Yet the same survey found that most people who have never married (61%) would like to do so someday.

It is beyond the scope of this analysis to explain why marriage has declined, except to note that it has declined far less for adults with college educations than among the less educated. Some of the increase in the median age at first marriage over the long term can be explained by the rising share of young adults enrolled in college, who have tended to marry later in life; recently, there are indications that adults who are not college graduates also are marrying later.2 Fallout from the Great Recession may be a factor in the recent decrease in newlyweds, although the linkage between marriage rates and economic hard times is not entirely clear.3

Divorce is a factor in diminishing the share of adults who are currently married compared with 50 years ago. But divorce rates have leveled off in the past two decades after climbing through the 1960s and 1970s, so divorce plays less of a role than it used to.4

What is clear is that a similar delay and decline of marriage is occurring in other developed nations, especially those in Europe, and in some cases in less developed nations. According to a recent United Nations report that analyzed marriage trends in the context of their impact on fertility,5 female age at first marriage rose from the 1970s to the 2000s in 75 of 77 countries included in its analysis. The increase was most marked in developed nations—and especially notable in those countries because the age at first marriage had been declining until the 1970s.

On another measure, the share of women ever married by ages 45-49, there were declines in all developed nations between the 1990s and the 2000s. According to the U.N. report, this was “due in part to an increasing acceptance of consensual [cohabiting] unions as a replacement for marital unions.”


“Currently married” includes married adults ages 18 and older with spouse present or absent but not separated.

“Median age at first marriage” is a Census Bureau approximation derived indirectly from tabulations of marital status and age. See (Marriage, Age at first.)

“Newly married” or “newlywed” is based on a question in the American Community Survey (ACS) asking respondents whether they got married in the past 12 months. The ACS is administered throughout the year, so the marriages could have taken place during the survey year or during the previous calendar year. In the 2010 ACS, for example, respondents could have been newly married as far back as January 2009 or as late as December 2010.

“New marriage rate” is computed using as the numerator the number of adults ages 18 and older who answered yes to the American Community Survey question asking whether they had married within the past 12 months. The denominator is the number of adults ages 18 and older who have never married, who are divorced or widowed, or who married within the past year.

Race/Ethnicity: References to whites, blacks and Asians are to the non-Hispanic components of those populations. Hispanics can be of any race. Asians also include Pacific Islanders.

About the Report

The demographic data in this report come from two Census Bureau surveys and the decennial censuses of 1960-2000. The Census Bureau’s analysis of Current Population Survey data is the basis for reporting trends in median age at first marriage. The American Community Surveys (ACS) of 2008, 2009 and 2010 are used to analyze the marital status of adults in those years and to analyze trends in new marriages. The decennial censuses of 1960-2000 are used to analyze the marital status of adults in those years.

All data from the American Community Surveys and decennial censuses are from tabulations done by the Pew Research Center using microdata files obtained from the Integrated Public-Use Microdata Series (IPUMS) database6. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 2010.] ( The censuses of 1980, 1990 and 2000 are 5% samples of the U.S. population. All other files are 1% samples of the U.S. population.

This report was written by D’Vera Cohn, senior writer, and by Wendy Wang, research associate, who also produced the charts. It was researched by Wang; Jeffrey S. Passel, senior demographer; and Gretchen Livingston, senior researcher. The report and charts were number-checked by Eileen Patten, research assistant, and copy-edited by Molly Rohal, communications coordinator. Paul Taylor, executive vice president of the Pew Research Center and director of the Social & Demographic Trends project, as well as Kim Parker, associate director of the Social & Demographic Trends project, provided editorial guidance.

Newlywed Trends

The decline in the number of newly married adults7—from 4.4 million in 2009 to 4.2 million in 2010—was shared among all age groups but was especially sharp for the youngest adults. Among adults ages 18-24, the number who recently married dropped 13% between 2009 and 2010, according to American Community Survey estimates (see appendix tables for details).

The decline in the number of newlywed men and women does not account for possible changes in population size or composition, but even when these factors are included, the trend does not change. For this analysis, the number of newlyweds was divided by the number of unmarried people and newlyweds in order to calculate a new-marriage rate.

In 2009, there were 40.1 newlyweds per thousand unmarried and newly married adults ages 18 and older. In 2010, that declined to 37.4, a 2.7 point drop. The number also declined from 2008 to 2009, though less sharply; there had been 41.4 newlyweds per thousand unmarried and newly married adults in 2008.8

The trends in newlywed numbers and rates varied somewhat among different age groups. The youngest adults had the biggest decline from 2009 to 2010, but numbers and rates also dropped for adults ages 25-34 and those ages 45 and older. The number rose and the rate was stable for adults ages 35-44.

Among the major racial and ethnic groups, the rates of new marriages—that is, number of newlyweds per thousand unmarried and newly married adults—declined for all groups. Even though the new marriage rate was highest for Asians, the drop was sharpest for this group. By education level, the decline was less sharp for college graduates than for less educated Americans.

The decline in new marriages shown in the American Community Survey is generally consistent with trends from the National Center for Health Statistics, which collects data from states on marriage licenses issued.9

Share Married

The share of Americans ages 18 and older who are currently married has been declining for many decades, reaching a record low 51% in 2010, based on analyses of Decennial Census and American Community Survey data. In 1960, 72% of adults were currently married and 15% were never married. The share of adults who were currently married dropped to 51%, and the never married group increased to 28% in 2010. The proportion divorced or separated, 14% in 2010, is higher than it was in 1960 but grew little over the past two decades. Widows and widowers made up the remaining 6% of adults in 2010.

By age group, the decline in the proportion of currently married adults is most dramatic for the young. Only 9% of adults ages 18-24 were married in 2010, compared with 45% in 1960. Among adults ages 25-34, fewer than half (44%) were married in 2010, compared with 82% in 1960. Although most Americans in their mid-30s onward are married, the proportions have declined notably since 1960.

The proportions currently married by racial and ethnic group diverge notably. More than half (55%) of whites are married, a decline from 74% in 1960. Among Hispanics, 48% are married, compared with 72% in 1960. Among blacks, only 31% are married, compared with 61% in 1960. Some differences between the groups can be explained by the younger age structure of Hispanics and blacks, compared with whites.

Adults also differ markedly in their likelihood to be married by educational attainment. Nearly two-thirds of adults with college degrees (64%) are married; just under half of those with some college education (48%) or a high school education or less (47%) are married. In 1960, the most educated and least educated adults were about equally likely to be married.

Age at First Marriage

The age at which Americans marry for the first time has been rising for decades. In the 1960s, most men and women married by their early 20s. In 2011, the median age at first marriage is in the late 20s and is the highest since at least 1890, the first year for which the Census Bureau has published statistics; other research indicates the median age peaked around 1900.10 In recent decades, the median age for men has been about two years higher than that for women.

Clearly, the rising age of first marriage is an important factor in explaining the diminishing share of Americans who have ever married, which includes those whose marriages have ended. Among 20- to 24-year-olds, 60% had ever been married in 1960, when the median age at first marriage for men was 22.8 and for women was 20.3. In 2010, only 14% of this age group had ever been married, and the median age at first marriage had risen to the late 20s. Even among 25- to 29-year-olds, 84% of whom had ever been married in 1960, only 42% were in 2010.

By race and ethnic group, the share who had ever married was similar for whites, blacks and Hispanics in 1960, but the decline in marriage has been particularly severe for African Americans. In 2010, only 55% of black adults had ever married, compared with 64% of Hispanics and 76% of whites. Some of this difference can be explained by the older age structure of the white population.

By education level, the likelihood of having ever been married has declined for all groups, but most sharply for the least educated. Among adults without a high school diploma, 69% had ever been married in 2010, compared with 88% in 1960. Among adults with college degrees, 78% had ever been married in 2010, compared with 82% in 1960.

Public Attitudes

Public opinion about marriage echoes the declining prevalence of marriage. In a 2010 Pew Research Center survey, about four-in-ten Americans (39%) said they agree that marriage as an institution is becoming obsolete. Back in the 70s, only 28% agreed with that premise.11

Younger generations are more likely than those ages 50 and older to hold the view that marriage is becoming obsolete. Some 44% of blacks say marriage is becoming obsolete, compared with 36% of whites. Adults with college degrees (27%) are much less likely than those with a high school diploma or less (45%) to agree that marriage is becoming obsolete.

When analyzed by respondents’ marital status, these differences sharpen. Just 31% of married adults agree that marriage is becoming obsolete, compared with 46% of all unmarried adults, 58% of never married single parents and 62% of cohabiting (unmarried) parents.

However, attitudes toward the institution of marriage do not always match personal wishes about getting married. Asked whether they want to get married, 47% of unmarried adults who agree that marriage is becoming obsolete say that they would like to wed.

Among unmarried adults who disagree that marriage is becoming obsolete, virtually the same share (45%) says they want to marry. The two groups are similar in their shares of “don’t want to get married” (26% vs. 24%) or “not sure” (26% vs. 31%).

Previous marriage experience plays a big role in whether people want to get married (again) or not. A majority of adults who have never been married say that they want to get married (61%), compared with only 26% of adults who have ever been married but are currently unmarried.

1.See Pew Research Center, “The Decline of Marriage and Rise of New Families,” Nov. 18, 2010. ↩

2.See Pew Research Center, “The Reversal of the College Marriage Gap,” Oct. 7, 2010. ↩

3.See “Is the Great Recession Linked to a Decline in Marriage?” Pew Research Center, Oct. 22, 2010; also Morgan, S. Philip, Erin Cumberworth and Christopher Wimer, “The Great Recession’s Influence on Fertility, Marriage, Divorce and Cohabitation,” in The Great Recession, edited by David B. Grusky, Bruce Western and Christopher Wimer. New York: Russell Sage Foundation. ↩

4.See Pew Research Center, “The Decline of Marriage and Rise of New Families,” Nov. 18, 2010, p. 19. ↩

5.United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2011). World Fertility Report 2009 (United Nations publication). ↩

6.Ruggles, Steven J., Trent Alexander, Katie Genadek, Ronald Goeken, Matthew B. Schroeder, and Matthew Sobek. Integrated Public Use Microdata Series: Version 5.0 [Machine-readable database ↩

7.The analysis of newlyweds is based on an ACS question asking respondents whether they got married in the previous 12 months. The ACS is administered throughout the year, so the marriages could have taken place during that year or the previous calendar year. In the 2010 ACS, for example, respondents could have been newly married as far back as January 2009 or as late as December 2010. ↩

8.The National Center for Family & Marriage Research recently reported that the rate of first marriages declined from 2008 to 2010, based on American Community Survey data. See Payne, K.K. & Gibbs, L (2011) First Marriage Rate in the U.S., 2010 (FP-11-12), National Center for Family & Marriage Research. ↩

9.The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) has historically collected data on new marriages from administrative records provided by the states. Since 1960, the annual estimated new marriage rate has fluctuated, but the overall pattern is one of decline (, However, NCHS statistics regarding marriage should be interpreted cautiously since the completeness of these records varies from state to state. See for more details. ↩

10.See, for example, Haines, Michael R. “Long Term Marriage Patterns in the United States from Colonial Times to the Present,” National Bureau of Economic Research, 1996. ↩

11.From a 1978 Time/Yankelovich, Skelly & White survey, based on registered voters. The comparable number from the Pew Research survey is 36% of registered voters.

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New Documentary Offers Outlook on Christian Singles

Posted by Ernest on December 27, 2011 at 12:30 PM Comments comments (0)

The maker of a new documentary film is hoping to give the church a fresh perspective on what it's like to be a single adult.

"Single Creek" is a documentary that offers a new perspective on Christian singles.

Andy Stanley Dispels 'the Right Person' Myth"Single Creek" looks at single adults of all ages and from all walks of life, including the divorced, widows, single parents, the never marrieds and former homosexuals.

It has been produced by non-profit organization Lifestreams Media and will air this summer on two national TV networks, NRB and the Hope Channel.

Producer and Director Chris Lang wants to give a voice to the more than 100 million single adults in the U.S. and challenge the "stigma of singleness" in the church.

"If I hadn't experienced a divorce, this movie might never have been made," he said.

"I witnessed God create something redemptive and healing out of something that was broken. The way we handle disappointments determines the quality of life we live and our impact on culture.

"That's why this film speaks to married people too."

Troy Miller, president of NRB Network, said that single and married viewers alike would be inspired by "Single Creek."

Kandus Thorp, vice president of Hope Channel, said "Single Creek" was a "must-view" for churches, families and "anyone who cares about singles within their sphere of influence."

The documentary has been endorsed by Laura MacCorkle, senior editor of, who praised it for its "sensitive yet revealing" interviews and called it a "refreshingly honest look" at the different types of singleness present in today's society.

A study guide to accompany the documentary has been co-authored by Lang and Dennis Franck, national director of Single Adult Ministries in the Assemblies of God.

The guide provides questions and commentary for a 9-week curriculum and is included with extended footage in the "Public Screening Edition" DVD.

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