The spread of singledom

One of the more amazing (and disappointing) trends nowadays is the spread of singledom.

Being alone generally is not a happy state. This change has been going on for some time, not only in Canada and the United States, but in many other parts of the world. There are several excuses for this turn of events.

If there was one overwhelming reason it would be self-centredness. Then too, industrialization has meant that people are busy outside of their homes and are getting married less frequently and later, with the desire to pursue their careers rather than getting married. Also, the wish to continue education in part is a reason for postponing or even rejecting matrimony.

Of great importance, in Canada and the United States more relaxed divorce laws facilitated the increase in singledom.

Nowadays, as women can follow their professional or even ordinary career paths, marriage has been delayed or even rejected. Another obvious explanation is increased longevity. As a spouse dies, the surviving member remains unmarried. This accounts for a sizable per cent of single households.

Perhaps one of the principal motives for remaining single is the pervasive attitude towards sex, and the willingness of a single person to raise a child. That entails less criticism now.

Later women realized that they could pursue careers not attainable for generations previously. They have filled universities where women now outnumber men. In law schools, medical schools and veterinary colleges, usually women make up more than half of the student body.

In turn, as women discovered that they could follow careers hitherto closed to them, that entailed increased financial security that could be found outside of marriage.

Those who are unmarried do not necessarily live alone permanently. Often temporary living arrangements do not result in adverse comments, even if it is only a temporary situation.

Efforts to reverse the spread of singledom have failed. Knowing the adverse economic effects, some nations have offered in vain financial rewards to encourage marriage. In France and in Quebec such steps have been forthcoming, but to no avail.

There are drawbacks to the spread of singledom. Loneliness is obvious. It also drives up housing costs because of the need for separate households. It is bad for the economy and the environment. Singles have fewer children, increasing the costs of caring for aging parents.

The psychological and health benefits of marriage are well-known.

Nevertheless, in our self-centred world, there is a rise in singledom, ignoring the bliss of a happy marriage. More is the pity.


Bruce Whitestone