The number of adults never married has increased sharply in recent decades

COVID-related challenges in the dating scene have come in an era when more people are delaying or forgoing marriage. The percentage of people who have never been married rose steadily over the second half of the 20th century and into the 21st. In 1950, 20% of women and 26.4% of men had never been married, and today those figures are 30.6% and 36.6%, respectively. Over time, increases in women’s educational attainment and labor force participation rates have made marriage less of an economic imperative, while liberalizing social attitudes have made other romantic and family arrangements more acceptable.

Marriage and long-term commitments remain a goal for many single adults, however. For these individuals, the difficulties in finding a partner extend beyond the disruptions to dating in COVID and the long-term changes in attitudes toward marriage. For people in many parts of the country, the pool of available mates is limited by demographic factors.


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