Since the 1960s, the American reality has transformed from a nation of married couples with 2.2 children to a country of singletons. Several reasons exist for this transformation including:
- Changing social attitudes - In the late 1950s, 80% of Americans surveyed thought single people (or otherwise unmarried) were neurotic.
- Marriage no longer considered desirable - One in three Americans, who are 21 or older, believe they want to get married at some point.
- Older Americans' increasing divorce rate - As people reach their 50s, they are more likely to divorce than people under the age of 50.
Besides becoming a growing social phenomenon, singletons have become an economic force. Based on recent Consumer Expenditure survey data, singletons' average per capita annual expenditure is $34,471. Individuals who are married but do not have children trailed with $28,017. Individuals who are married with kids lagged even further behind with $23,179. The differences in these expenditure (not income) levels could reflect singletons' desire to spend than to save. Their open wallets have caught business' attention. For example, DeBeers now promotes a right-handed ring for single women. Sam Stolarz discusses ways retailers could improve the shopping experience for singletons especially recently divorced dads.
The changes are found in the home, in eating out, and in traveling. Ikea now makets furniture geared toward people living alone. Restaurants are adding communal tables to accommodate gatherings of singletons. Norwegian Cruise Lines offers single staterooms for solo travelers.
Provided the means to purchase these market offerings remains, the rise of the single American should continue. David Eastman, JWT's North American CEO gives the money conclusion:
I think companies still regard [singles] as a niche rather than the majority. But I sense that if the statistics keep going the way they are, it will end up being the majority."
As the below maps, shows, some cities are already fulfilling Eastman's observation.