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U.S. News Archive
May 14 - May 20, 2001



This page contains news for the period May 14, 2001 through May 20, 2001.  

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Sunday, May 20, 2001

Study shows married workers are paid more than single counterparts

A story published today by the Washington Post reports that a study done by sociologists Michelle Budig of the University of Arizona and Paula England of the University of Pennsylvania found that single people are paid less then married workers.

The detailed survey allowed the researchers to examine the impact on wages of such factors as age, race and education. But unlike most studies, the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY) also tracks years of continuous employment at a single firm and records any brief interruptions in full-time employment -- subtle factors that social scientists have found make a big difference in what people are paid.

Budig and England found strong evidence of a marriage premium: Married people, both men and women, are paid more than single people with the same job, skills and experience. But that bonus is wiped out if a woman has two children, and a third child results in "a net wage penalty," the researchers found.

Utah cohabitation trend rises, but remains a bastion of marriage

A story published today by the Salt Lake Tribune reports that the newly released census figures and other data reinforces Utah's reputation as a bastion of marriage.

A total of 24,104 Utahns described themselves as unmarried partners for the latest census, a leap from the 11,466 who did so in 1990. That's only 1.1 percent of the state's population -- and below the 1.9 percent national average. But University of Utah sociologist Dennis Willigan calls the new figures a significant bump for a traditionally conservative state. 

"The cultural norm in Utah continues to be 'let's get married' rather than 'let's move in together,' " Willigan says. "But what you're seeing is more delayed marriage among young adults and divorced adults, so there is a substantially higher rate of cohabitation, especially in places such as Salt Lake County and Summit County. Then you've got places like Utah County where cohabitation would be more taboo." 

The census numbers tell the story. In Salt Lake City and Ogden, 2.1 percent described themselves as being in a cohabiting relationship. In more conservative Provo, that figure dwindled to 0.4 percent. 

Contrasts also are found in rural Utah. In more traditional towns such as Richfield or Tremonton, the unmarried-partner rates -- 0.6 percent and 0.7 percent, respectively -- remain well below the state average. But resort communities such as Springdale (3.7 percent), Park City (1.9 percent), Moab (3 percent), and Boulder (5.0 percent) the cohabitation picture changes considerably. 

Willigan assumes that at least part of the cohabitation increase in Utah's urban areas can be attributed to gay couples who find the "unmarried partners" category the best way to describe their relationships. There is no way to quantify that assumption because of confidentiality limits placed on the census, but anecdotal evidence is plentiful. 

Cohabitation is hardly a new phenomenon. But studies show the practice has grown at a dramatic rate during the past two decades. Since 1990, the percentage of people who described themselves as unmarried partners in the census jumped from 1.3 percent to 1.9 percent. 

Those percentages may seem low, but they represent an increase from 3.2 million unmarried partners nationwide 10 years ago to nearly 5.5 million in the 2000 census. 

"It's youth and inexperience," says Gayle Ruzicka, president of the conservative Utah Eagle Forum. "All the data show that those who live together before marriage have a much higher divorce rate, or they just don't get married. Those who get married first and have children tend to stay married more. 

"But I'm not surprised the [cohabitation] numbers are going up," she says. "It's to be expected. Go to the movies, and half the time, even if nothing sexual is going on, the couple is living together. What used to be a kiss is now going to bed. It's bound to impact some of these kids and bound to impact their lives."

Census show 'army of ones' increasing in Kentucky, Indiana

A story published today by the Courier-Journal reports that the tradeoffs of living alone are being made by more people than ever, according to figures released last week by the U.S. Census Bureau.

From 1990 to 2000, this "army of ones" grew by more than 200,000 in Kentucky and Indiana, or 29 percent and 22 percent, respectively.

Nationally, the number of people who live alone increased 21 percent during the same period.

Ron Crouch, director of Kentucky's State Data Center, said living alone is part of the growth in what is termed "non-family households."

In Kentucky, family households -- including single people with children, married couples and married couples with children -- grew by less than 9 percent. Non-family households -- including households with roommates, unmarried partners or people living alone -- grew by almost 34 percent.

Nationally, non-family households grew faster than family households -- 23 percent to 11 percent.

The category with the largest percentage jump in Kentucky and Indiana was the number of "unmarried partners," which grew by 121 percent in Kentucky and by 84 percent in Indiana. (Nationally, there was an increase of about 72 percent.)

The actual numerical increase in people reporting living with unmarried partners is smaller than those percentages might suggest, about 96,000 in both states. And Crouch thinks the apparent growth is, at least in part, a result of more accurate reporting.

Both heterosexual and homosexual couples may have been more open about their relationships in 2000 than they were in 1990, the first year that the Census asked the "unmarried partner" question, he said.

In raw numbers nationally, people living alone grew at a more rapid rate than the unmarried partner category.

In Kentucky, for example, the 2000 census showed an increase of 92,848 people reporting living alone over 1990, more than twice as many as the 39,021 increase in those reporting living with unmarried partners.

Anita Barbee, an associate research professor at the Kent School of Social Work at the University of Louisville, said the numbers probably reflect three trends: Divorce leaves many people living alone in midlife; long lifespans mean that some widows and widowers may live alone for decades; and trends toward delaying marriage means that many young people who will eventually marry first spend some time alone.

Herbert Anderson, a retired theologian who lives in Seattle and has written a book titled "Living Alone," said the trend reflects many positive changes in society.

It is good, he maintains, when a widow has the financial independence to stay in the home she loves, rather than having to move in with her children.

And it may be better for young people to get married at 25, after a few years alone, rather than marrying in a rush at 19.

Still, Anderson said, the large increase in those living alone does raise some concerns. "What it tells us," he said, "is maybe worth paying attention to."

Anderson said that, for some people, living alone can lead to isolation and a sense of being disconnected from the community. In any case, the trend could affect many aspects of life.

For example, Anderson said, the trend toward outpatient health care will have to take into consideration the way people live.

For outpatient care to work, he said, "Somebody has to change the bandage, someone needs to . . . drive you to the next chemotherapy appointment. Where will those networks come from?"

Health concerns may be especially important to older people who live alone. In both Kentucky and Indiana, about 10 percent of all households are people over 65 living alone.

Social-service programs have sprung up to help elderly people living by themselves. In Louisville, TeleCare, which has about 400 clients, has assisted such seniors for a quarter of a century as part of the nonprofit social-service agency ElderServe .

Volunteers, many of whom live alone themselves, make daily phone calls to check on clients.

Bernice Jackson, one of the volunteers who make calls, said that many of the 30 people she checks on each week would like to live with family, but others enjoy their independence.

Jackson, meanwhile, brushes off questions about whether she thinks the trend toward living alone is good or bad. "This is a new day and a new world," she said. "Everything is different now. We just have to accept."

Saturday, May 19, 2001

Census indicates Americans living together on a rise 

A story released today by the Associated Press reports that living outside marriage has surged in popularity in the 1990s, even in the Bible Belt states where alternative arrangements traditionally have been seen as socially unacceptable.

Nationally, there were 72 percent more unmarried-partner households than a decade earlier, 2000 census figures showed. Homes headed by married couples increased by just 7 percent.

The practice of living together without being married grew even faster across the South. In Arkansas and Oklahoma, the portion of unmarried couples doubled, from 2 percent to 4 percent.

"You are talking about states that have a lot of organized religion and a lot of Southern Baptists," said Thomas Coleman, executive director of the American Association for Single People. "In those states, the social stigma is considerable. You are considered - now people joke about this - 'living in sin."'

Despite the rapid growth in nontraditional arrangements, Americans mainly live together as husbands and wives.

Nationally, 52 percent of homes are headed by married couples, down from 55 percent in 1990. Unmarried-couple homes made up 5 percent of all households in 2000, compared with 3 percent in 1990.

Groups like AASP hope the trend draw more attention to the financial penalties of living together outside of marriage, such as the lack of employee benefits and inheritance tax exemptions for unmarried, live-in partners.

The 2000 census so far has released information on relationships for 21 states and the District of Columbia. Reports for more states will be made public over the next month.

Unmarried partners in the Bible Belt show some apprehension about the arrangement due to the "strong Christian background" of residents and the wide influence churches have over congregations, said Dr. Stewart Beasley, a family therapist and professor of psychiatry at the University of Oklahoma.

In many instances, the biggest increases in unmarried couples came in states with some of the highest divorce rates in the country. In both Oklahoma and Arkansas, where the percentage of unmarried couples doubled, federal figures from 1998 show there were six divorces for every 1,000 people. The national average then was 4.2 per thousand.

Some couples are choosing to test their relationships by living together before getting married, Beasley said. Others, fearful of the marriage penalty on federal income tax, simply see it as a financial issue.

Scaling back the marriage penalty tax and other laws that seem to penalize marriage will help "people see that marriage is the best choice," said Heather Cirmo, spokeswoman with the Family Research Council in Washington.

Friday, May 18, 2001

Census reports rise in single-father homes

A story released today by the Associated Press reports that more fathers are going solo in raising kids. It's a change that single fathers say shows greater acceptance by American families and courts that sometimes the best place for children is with dad.

Thomas Coleman, executive director of the American Association for Single People, attributed the rise in single dads to a variety of reasons, including more judges awarding custody to fathers in divorce cases and more women choosing their jobs over family life.

Single fathers say the numbers help tear down a long-standing conception that single fathers tend to abandon their kids, or at least not take as good care of them as single moms, said Vince Regan, an Internet consultant from Grand Rapids, Mich., who is raising five kids on his own.

``In time, it goes a long way to helping society think that single fathers do help their kids and want to be part of their lives,'' he  said.

The Census Bureau counts single fathers in a category that could allow other adults, such as the child's grandparents, to be present, but bureau analysts said research shows that most of the men in the category are raising a child alone.

The bureau released basic figures for 21 states and the District of Columbia this week on topics ranging from age to home ownership. Other states are scheduled to be released later this month.

According to 2000 census data being released Friday, some of the biggest increase in single-father households occurred in southern and western states: up 126 percent in Nevada, and 74 percent in Delaware.

 The 2000 census found:

--In 2.2 million households, fathers raise their children without a mother. That's about one household in forty-five.

--The number of single-father households rose 62 percent in 10 years.

--The portion of the country's total 105.5 million households that were headed by single fathers with children living there doubled in a decade, to 2 percent.

Nation's capital remains a city of singles

A story released today by the Associated Press reports that Washington, D.C. has become the city for young single  professionals. The new census data show that in the last decade, Washington has remained a city of singles. In fact, while its population fell by nearly 35,000, the number of one-person households climbed by more than 5,100.

The census reports that 43 percent of the district's 572,000 residents live alone. In nearby Virginia, households headed by single adults increased to 47 percent of the state total, up from 43 percent in 1990.

``A lot of the people who used to have roommates don't need them anymore for economic reasons,'' said Philip Dearborn, a senior fellow with the Brookings Institution who cited the region's economic affluence as one reason for the increase.

``Cities actually serve as marriage markets, they're attractive places for young singles to be,'' said Edward Glaeser, a Harvard economist who conducts research for Brookings.

While the 61-square-mile city is known for cultural attractions, including the Smithsonian Institution's museums, the Library of Congress and the Kennedy Center, it is also struggling to modernize more than 140 public schools built between 30 and 60 years ago.

``The most important thing that the district can do to attract middle income people is to improve school quality,'' said Glaeser, adding that vouchers for private or parochial schools could help.

The census figures being released Friday also show that 18 percent of the 60,987 households with children are headed by single parents. They include some of the city's most indigent residents.

But there are also the single young professionals who hold one of the 627,000 jobs in the district. The census data indicated that there were 14,886 people living in the district with unmarried partners, including the population most likely to flee to the suburbs as their children approach school age.

To counter that trend, the city began a massive redevelopment effort in 1999, shortly after the election of Mayor Anthony A. Williams.

``When you're talking about keeping families here and attracting families, the schools are really a foundation,'' said Andrew Altman, the district's director of planning.

Forbes rates places best suited for singles

A story published by Forbes reports that it's publication has put together their first annual guide for the best places for the single life. Factors that were looked at were the population of single people, the nightlife of the city, job growth and cost of living. After tallying up all the figures and throwing in their own subjective factor they came out with Washington, D.C.-Baltimore metroplex coming out on top, thanks to the area's multitude of museums, hordes of recent grads and booming night life.

In coming up with  the categories, Forbes used Woods & Poole Economics to look at the projected job growth for all 40 places over the next five years as one of the factors in determining the places for singles.  ACCRA, an economic research group at Arlington, Va., was also employed by Forbes to look at the areas based on apartment rents, the cost of pizza, movie tickets and a six-pack of Heineken to estimate how expensive or inexpensive it is to be single in all of these spots. Forbes then added their own subjective factor to account for public perception.

Best places to be single:

1.Washington, D.C.-Baltimore 
4.Los Angeles 
6.San Francisco-Oakland 
8.New York 
9.Dallas-Fort Worth 
11.San Diego 
13.Minneapolis-St. Paul 
14.St. Louis 
18.New Orleans 
25.San Antonio 
26.Las Vegas 
35.Kansas City 
36.Salt Lake City 

Thursday, May 17, 2001

Percentage of nuclear family dips in new census report

A story released today by the Digital Missourian reports that according to the recently released Census 2000, the traditional nuclear family is increasingly losing ground to other household arrangements.

Although Boone County’s population increased 20.5 percent during the past decade, the percentage of married-couple households decreased from 50 percent of total households in 1990 to 46 percent in 2000. At the same time, the percentage of married-couple households with children decreased from 24 percent to 21 percent.

“Unmarried America is growing,” said Thomas Coleman of the American Association For Single People, based in Glendale, Calif. “The diversity of our living arrangements are increasing.”

Coleman said he hopes the latest numbers will help end government policies and workplace practices that discriminate against unmarried people.

“Married with children is not going to go out of style,” he said. “But it’s going to be harder for legislators to ignore unmarried couples.”

Coleman said that while the decreasing number of married-couple households might upset some people, it offers solace for others.

The Census 2000 findings were welcomed on Wednesday by two single mothers interviewed at Head Start Child Development on Park Avenue. Sandra Petty of Columbia, a 31-year-old mother of three, said being a single parent can sometimes be difficult. But she said it helps to know that the ranks of single parents are growing.

“The toughest part is when the kids notice other kids’ fathers,” she said. “I usually tell them, ‘I’m Mom and I’m Dad.’ ”

Michelle Wagner also said she feels better knowing she’s in a growing group. “I know how people have reacted to single parents,” Wagner said. “It makes me feel better that there are more out there.”

There are also more people living by themselves. Coleman attributes this increase to the booming economy of the 1990s,which he said allowed those who want to live alone to do so.

“It costs more to live alone,” he said. “So more people are living alone because they can afford it.” 

Daryl Hobbs, director of the MU Office of Social and Economic Data Analysis, said the numbers are “the reflection of social changes that have occurred over the past half century.”

Tuesday, May 15, 2001

U.S. census reports increase in unmarried couples

A story released today by the Associated Press reports that America's notion of getting married and settling down has slowly changed in terms of the time frame or perception. They're expanding their ideas of what it means to "settle down."

Between 1990 and 2000, the latest census finds that there is a 71 percent increase in the number of unmarried partners living together. It dwarfed the growth in married-couple households which only went up 7 percent from the past decade.

Data released by the Census Bureau Tuesday also showed   a large increase in other alternative arrangements: a 25 percent increase in the number of women living with their own child but without a husband; and a 21 percent growth   increase in the number of people living alone.

Still, the figures should place new pressure on lawmakers to deal with the issues of changing family structures, said Thomas F. Coleman, executive director of the American Association of Single People. Those issues include expanding employee benefits for domestic partners and recognizing same-sex partnerships.

"We're just saying let's even the playing field a bit," Coleman said. "If we are doling out benefits fairly, let's dole them out to single and unmarried people, and married people."

Later this year the Census Bureau will reveal more details, such as how many unmarried couples were in same-sex relationships, or how many people living alone were elderly widows.

Overall, there were 54.5 million married-couple families in 2000, or about 52 percent of the country's 105.5 million households, the census reported. In 1990, there were 50.7 million married-couple homes, 55 percent of all households then.

By comparison, unmarried-partner homes number 5.5 million now, or about 5 percent of all homes, up from the 3 percent reported a decade ago.

Americans living single outnumbers married couples with children
A story published today by the New Haven Register reports that the household relationships, age and gender statistics released by the U.S. Census Bureau today showed significant changes in the makeup of American families over the last 10 years, including a continuation of the 50-year decline in married couples.

The report noted that only 51.7 percent of households contained both a husband and wife in 2000, down from 55 percent a decade ago and 78 percent in the 1950s. Also, people living alone occupy 25.8 percent of American households, surpassing married couples with children by more than 2 percent.

"It won’t be long before the majority of the nation’s households are unmarried," said Thomas F. Coleman, executive director of the American Association of Single People. "Unmarried Americans are here to stay."

The changes in American households, though, were the most striking aspects of the "Profile of General Demographic Characteristics for the United States: 2000." Some experts say the decreases in married households aren’t just a result of more divorces. Some couples are waiting to get married until later in life, even after they have children. Others, including homosexuals, are choosing to forgo the ritual altogether.

Families maintained by women with no husband present increased three times as quickly as married couple families in the last decade, making up 7.2 percent of all households.

Marc St. Camille, co-author of "It’s Okay to be Single," said he hopes people are no longer rushing into marriage just because they’re lonely. As a massage therapist in New York City, St. Camille listened for years to clients stuck in deplorable relationships because they couldn’t bear to live alone.

"People shouldn’t be married unless it’s a really great thing for them and all the elements are in place," he said. "We never say it’s better to be single, but you don’t have to be miserable if you live alone."

The statistics were disheartening for the Family Research Council, a lobbying group that promotes traditional family values and opposes single people living together before marriage. Bridget Maher, the council’s marriage and family policy analyst, suspects that lower marriage rates lead to many of the country’s problems including poverty, juvenile delinquency and teen pregnancy.

But Nancy Wise, who wrote "Are You Gonna Be In There All Night? 50 Great Reasons to Love Living Alone" under the pen name Bobby Solo, says people need to look no further than "Dear Abby" to see that marriage doesn’t work for everyone.

"These are people who felt they had to find a mate regardless of what kind of mate it was," she said. "A lot of people make bad decisions because they feel they shouldn’t live alone."

St. Camille and Wise are both members of AASP


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