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For First Time, More Singles In U.S. Than Married Couples

By John Dodge

CHICAGO (CBS) --  For the first time, there are more single people in the United States and married people, according to a new research report.

The government first began gathering information on marital status in 1976, when 37.4 percent of the population was single,  which included those who were never married and divorced,

A report by financial researcher Ed Yardeni found that in August singles for the first time topped 50 percent of the population 16 and older.

Of the 248.2 million people in the U.S. who are 16 and older, 124,6 are single, compared with 123.6 who are married.

While the divorce rate is a factor, it appears that many people are choosing to remain single or perhaps waiting longer to get married.

The percentage of married people has risen from 22.1 percent in 1976 to 30.4 percent today,  while the proportion of divorced, single people rose from 15.3 to 19.8 percent.

What effect does this have on the economy?

It could have a negative effect on the housing market and consumer spending.

For example, singles are more likely to rent than own a home, Yardeni said.  That might be good for landlords, but bad for home owners.

Because singles are less likely to have children--and divorced singles who already have children are less likely to have more--"they are bound to be more self-centered in the way they live and spend money," Yardeni said.

"They are most likely to live in single-person households, which don't earn as much as those that have more than one income earner."


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