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U.S. News Archive
September 27 - September 30, 1999





This page contains news for the period Monday, September 27, 1999 through Thursday, September 30, 1999.



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Thursday, September 30, 1999

Generation X and Family Diversity

The following contains excerpts of a presentation on Generation X at American Demographics' Consumer 2000 Conference in Chicago. Co-presenters on this panel were:  Allison Davis, executive producer, Dunbar Group, and Allen Bukoff, global PULSE coordinator, McCann-Erickson Worldwide. An article containing the excerpts were reported in the September issue of American Demographics.

Generation X, the first generation weaned on "Sesame Street," is now moving into the family formation years. The variations are endless of what defines a "family" for the 44 million adults now aged 23 to 34 years old.  For Xers, a family could be a group of friends living together, a single mother raising a child, or a traditional mother-father household with 2.7 kids. According to government data, 54 percent of adults aged 25 to 34 are married, 35 percent are single, and the rest are either separated from their spouse or divorced. By 2010, the Census Bureau projects that 85 percent of Xers, who will then be 35-to-44-year-olds, will have married at least once.

Population Update:

  • Age range today: 23 to 34 years old
  • Population size: 44 million
  • Percent of total population: 16%
    (Source: U.S. Census Bureau)
  • Percent of 25 to 34 year olds married today: 54 percent
  • Percent divorced or separated from spouse: 11 percent
  • Percent single/never married: 35 percent
  • Projected percent of 35 to 44 year olds in 2010 married at least once: 85 percent
  • Projected percent single/never married in 2010: 15 percent
    (Source: U.S. Census Bureau)
  • Percent of Gen Xers who have established a financial plan: 54 percent
  • Percent who want investment advice: 88 percent
  • Percent who already have mutual funds: 46 percent


Wednesday, September 29, 1999

Marriage myth: Vows are common 'law' denominator

An article published today in the Standard Observer discusses the myth that a man and a woman who live together in Pennsylvania for seven years have entered into a common law marriage.

Although the state does recognize common law marriages as legal marriages, the requirements for such a legal union involve several factors, and seven years of cohabitation is not one of them.

The story explains that, in Pennsylvania, a common law marriage can only occur when a man and woman live together, exchange words between each other of their commitment, and "hold out'' or tell the world that they are husband and wife through their conduct.

"Holding out'' includes such acts as the woman taking the man's last name, filing a joint federal income tax return, and listing each other as beneficiaries on insurance forms.

The article emphasizes there is no such thing as a common law divorce. Once the man and woman are married, regardless of the manner - common law or otherwise - they can only divorce by legal means and through a judge's order.

A bill is pending in the state to discontinue future common law marriages. On Jan. 20, 1999, State Rep. David J. Mayernik introduced legislation to abolish common law marriages in Pennsylvania.

"House Bill 43 will prevent abuse of the Commonwealth's common law marriage law by people who are seeking insurance benefits by claiming they are married,'' Mayernik noted in a press release. "The measure would abolish common law marriage from taking place, but would not affect existing common law marriages.''

The bill has the support of the Family Law Division of the Pennsylvania Bar Association and is currently in the House Judiciary Committee under review.

The article says that during the 1998 legislative session, Oklahoma and South Carolina considered abolishing common law marriages, but those bills failed in both state houses. Three years ago, Georgia and Idaho were successful in passing legislation to ban common law marriages in those states.


Monday, September 27, 1999

Sneak Preview of the Decade Ahead

An article appearing in the September issue of American Demographics takes a sneak preview of demographic trends expected in the next several years.

The article says that people living alone or unrelated people living together now comprise more than 30 percent of all households in the United States. An additional 7 percent of householders are unmarried relatives living together, and 11 percent are single parents.

Married couples with and without children hold a slim majority of U.S. households today.

The article predicts that in the next decade, the number of married couples with children at home will remain stable, while the number of single-parent families, single-person households, and other unmarried households will increase about 10 percent. The projections are based on an analysis of census data by an expert with TGE Demographics, Brad Edmondson, who is also a former American Demographics editor.

Number of unmarried home buyers is on the rise

According to an article published in the September issue of American Demographics, scores of young singles are taking the plunge into homeownership.

The number of unmarried people ages 18 to 34 is slated to grow from 33 million to 38 million between next year and 2010, a 16 percent increase.

The article says that income levels of single young adults is growing. The number of unattached 18-to-24-year-olds making over $50,000 a year grew by 75 percent from 1994 to 1997, while the number of single 25-to-44-year-olds making the same amount grew by 59 percent. Six-figure earners in both categories also showed growth: 38,000 singles aged 18 to 24 made over $100,000 in 1997, an increase of 65 percent over 1994, while 241,000 25-to-44-year-olds did the same, a 35 percent increase.

With this new wealth, many singles are ready to buy a home and start planning for the future. Unmarried people of all ages are shedding their renter images and buying homes, from apartments and condos to single family units.

Although the number of unmarried home buyers grew only 0.2 percent from 1997 to 1998, a major 28.9 percent increase was reported the year before, according to Chicago Title Corporation's Annual Survey of Recent Home Buyers. And by next year, the traditional home buyer -- a married couple with two kids -- will make up less than 25 percent of first-time buyers, according to a report by marketing firm Dragonette, Inc. Unmarried households, on the other hand, will total about 36 percent of all first-time buyers. (First-time buyers make up about 42 percent of the nation's housing market.)

In Chicago Title's 1998 survey, some metropolitan areas showed significant increases in single home buyers of all ages. San Francisco, where 55 percent of all home buyers had never been married (versus 47 percent in 1997), is one of the hot markets. In Washington, D.C., 24 percent of home buyers were singles, up 1 percent, while Denver's population of single home buyers increased from 19 percent to nearly 24 percent. One out of four buyers in Minneapolis and Miami were also unmarried.

Young single males are not the only ones buying homes -- single women are picking up property at the same pace as their male counterparts. In fact, unmarried women of all ages have nearly doubled their share of the national home buying market in the last ten years, from 10 percent in 1987 to 18 percent in 1997, according to Calabria. Single men, on the other hand, accounted for 11 percent of the market in 1997, up from 7 percent ten years earlier.


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