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Are singles being ignored?

What are the most important differences between single people and married people? If you asked most people this question, they’d probably answer that single people tend to be a bit lonelier, a bit sadder, maybe a bit more lacking in life purpose and fulfillment compared to their married friends and family members. One would be a lot more likely than the other to be eating delivery pizza alone on a Friday night, that’s for sure.

These are common cultural scripts, at least in the United States, and social science has reinforced them a bit by telling us over and over that getting married does, in fact, bring various benefits to one’s level of happiness and life satisfaction. Marriage is good for you, we hear over and over and over.

And yet: People, on the whole, seem less into marriage than they used to be. At a time when it’s easier than ever before to learn about the purported benefits of getting married, single people are on the rise, and there’s a growing awareness that not everybody gets married by the time they’re 30, or 40, or 50 — that more and more people are building solo lives for themselves that would have been viewed as wildly unorthodox in the fairly recent past. The numbers tell a straightforward story. In 1970, there were 38 million single people in the U.S., and they made up just 28 percent of the population. In 2014, there were 107 million and they comprised 45 percent of the population.

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