New York state has the highest percentage of never-married women in the country, and in New York City it’s even higher. 34.8 percent of New York state women over the age of 15 have never married; in the city, it’s 41.7 percent. That’s not particularly surprising — culturally, it’s odd to get married before you’re 30 in New York. The only friends of mine who are under 30 and married don’t live in New York — they’re folks who I went to high school with, or college friends who left the city before getting engaged. The only people I know who are under 30 and live in New York and are married are other lawyers — something I suspect ties into an existing risk-aversion, desire for stability and personal (not political) conservatism amongst people who go into law, as well as the fact that the people I know from law school and work have entered into steady careers that make marriage and family more feasible.
But what’s more interesting to me is the reporting on the survey. The headline over at WNYC is “New York Leads in Never-Married Women.” Fascinating, sure, but more men than women in New York have never married — 46.7% of dudes in this city haven’t ever tied the knot. I don’t have time to click through every state in the American Community Survey, but I’m going to wager a guess that we also lead the nation in never-married men. So why are all the headlines focused on single ladies? Folks are saying that New York is a terrible place to move if you’re looking to get hitched, and I suppose that’s true if you’re 22 and want to get married tomorrow. But actually, it’s a pretty great place to find lots of interesting single people who spend their 20s focusing on their own personal development and interests, instead of hunting down a life partner. It’s not for everyone, sure — some people put finding a life partner as Priority Number 1, and that’s ok too — but for those of us who want to delay marriage until we’re in our 30s (hi!), New York is a fantastic place to do it. And hey, almost half of the population is single — that seems like a better chance at finding love than a place like Wyoming, where only 20% of women over the age of 15 have never married.
Also, we have really low divorce rates — I suspect because people who get married later have a more fully-developed sense of themselves and their needs and desires, and because later marriage is correlated with higher education rates, and higher education rates are tied to greater financial stability, and financial stability makes marriage a hell of a lot easier.
So good job, New York. But let’s not take men out of the picture on this one. Amped-up reporting on The State Of Single Ladies is fun because we all enjoy being terrified with weekly threats of our impending cat-ladydom if we don’t find a husband yesterday, but really, lots of women aren’t chomping at the bit for a diamond ring — and about the same number of men as women want to get married someday. The OMG THERE ARE SO MANY SINGLE WOMEN IN THIS TOWN reporting feeds into the idea that we’re single by default, and that the stats on single women are more newsworthy because duh, we all want to be married. Men, well, if a bunch of them are single it’s probably because they wouldn’t have it any other way.
Of course, I personally can’t wait to get wifed and then send my cat straight to the glue factory when I no longer need his companionship. I know I’m getting a little close to my sell-by date, but I’m really only single because no one has bought me this ring yet. Obviously.