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Nearly 4 in 10 American adults live without spouse or partner as single population grows: Pew

marriage, rings, couple
Unsplash/Samantha Gades

About four out of 10 adults in the United States are living without a romantic partner, which is part of a growing trend, according to a new report by Pew Research Center.

Using census data, Pew noted in a report Tuesday that 38% of U.S. adults in 2019 were neither living with a spouse or other romantic partner, which was an increase from the 29% reported in 1990.

By contrast, 53% of adults in 2019 were married, representing a decline from the 64% reported in 1990. Meanwhile, 6% of adults were cohabitating in 2019, up from 4% in 1990.

"The growth in the single population is driven mainly by the decline in marriage among adults who are at prime working age," Pew Senior Researcher Richard Fry and Pew Director of Social Trends Research Kim Parker wrote in an analysis. 

"While the unpartnered population includes some adults who were previously married (those who are separated, divorced or widowed), all of the growth in the unpartnered population since 1990 has come from a rise in the number who have never been married."

The researchers concluded that this growing single population had "broad societal implications, as does the growing gap in well-being between partnered and unpartnered adults."

"Looking across a range of measures of economic and social status, unpartnered adults generally have different – often worse – outcomes than those who are married or cohabiting," the report continued. 

"Unpartnered adults have lower earnings, on average, than partnered adults and are less likely to be employed or economically independent. They also have lower educational attainment and are more likely to live with their parents."

In recent years, much has been made about the growing population of American adults experiencing what some have described as a loneliness epidemic.

In January 2020, before the pandemic lockdowns occurred in the United States, global insurance company Cigna released a survey of around 10,400 adults, which found that 61% of respondents reported feeling lonely.

"The trends shaping how we work – increasing use of technology, more telecommuting and the always-on work culture – are leaving Americans more stressed, less rested, spending more time on social media, and less time with friends and family," Cigna President and CEO David M. Cordani said in a statement at the time.

"For the business community, it is resulting in less engagement, less productivity and lower retention levels. To confront these issues at home and at work, we are helping people build stronger connections and driving deeper health engagement to improve overall well-being and vitality."

Last year, the Virginia-based Institute for Family Studies released a report drawing data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. The report found that the U.S. experienced its lowest rate of divorce in about 50 years in 2019. 

The data showed that for every 1,000 marriages, 14.9 ended in divorce in 2019.

“People are getting married later in life these days, and they are less likely to rush into a marriage which they may regret later on. On the other hand, we've seen the record low marriage rate happening in the U.S.,” IFS Director of Research Dr. Wendy Wang told The Christian Post at the time. 

“College-educated adults are more likely than those without a college degree to get married, and their divorce rate is lower.”

In April 2020, the National Center for Health Statistics produced a report on the marriage rates from 1900 through 2018. The report stated that marriage rates had reached their lowest point in more than 100 years.

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