Friday, March 22, 2013


Women's Favorite Kinds of Circles

"... by the time they turn 30, about two-thirds of American women have had a baby, typically out of wedlock. Overall, 48 percent of first births are to unmarried women, most of them in their twenties. ... Twentysomethings who are unmarried, especially singles, are significantly more likely to drink to excess, to be depressed, and to report lower levels of satisfaction with their lives, compared to married twentysomethings."

There's a neat new study out, lots of colorful charts and such.

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I will go through and read to see if this analysis shows up later in the report, but I would REALLY like to see a breakdown of the data re: "what's best for the children" that treats long-term, monogamous partnerships as a separate category from "single."


Also, I want to see the second chart on page 10 split into 2 graphics - showing "transitions" doesn't really tell us anything - did people break up or get married? Did single people start cohabitating? Did the married people all get divorced?


ALSO, I want to see the graph on page 12 plotted against changes in real income from 1947 to the present.


@Ophelia I had to go through this for work so I can tell you that the "transitions" graph is all of the above, on the basis of any upheaval, whether new marriage, divorce, cohabitation or break-up, being similarly tough on kids.

What they haven't sufficiently dealt with, to me, is are the people who are now cohabiting with kids the people who once would have been marrying and divorcing (as the divorce rate has dropped, after all)? One of the authors told me no, marriage contributes to longevity of a relationship, but I'm really not convinced they've dealt with that. Most of these numbers can't tell us much about if Marriage As An Institution really does anything or if it's all about The Type of People Who Marry vs. Cohabit.

That chart on page 12 plus real income would be fascinating.


@TheBelleWitch Ah, that makes sense re: why to group the categories together on p. 10 (though I agree I'd really like to see whether these are transitions within the same set of people).


@Ophelia Yeah, I always want studies like this to be WAY more specific. Like, break it down by income, race & ethnicity, geographic region, field of work, etc. Then we might (might!) have data that we could draw conclusions from.

Also, the talk about single and cohabiting twenty somethings being unhappier than their married peers, combined with their claim that people tend to get married because they are financially secure, leads me to the conclusion that marriage doesn't make you happier, but being financially secure probably does.


I still love it:)@t

lasso tabasco

Oh please. Drinking to excess= higher life satisfaction. These people know nothing. SINGLE AND DRUNK FOREVERRRR


@lasso tabasco
I'd high-five you, but I'm feeling too hungover for such strenuous activity this morning.

Edith Zimmerman

@lasso tabasco SADf!!!


Oh snap, turning 27 and dodged both of those bullets.


Isn't it possible (and I didn't read the entire report, so maybe I'm being a jerk here) that marriage & kids don't cause happiness, but that people are more likely to not get married & not have kids if they are not happy?


@leon s wait...are you saying that correlation ISN'T the same thing as causation??? mind = blown.

@leon s Or that for those who married in their 20s, they are living in areas with cultural expectations of being married, and it's very affirming?


Related but not really related: my mother reminded me not long ago that at my age, my grandmother was raising four children under the age of 8.

I'm 22.

Needless to say, a lot of drinking and mad respect for my grandma ensued.


@chnellociraptor My family (on my mom's side) is something of an oddity in that going back as far as my great-grandmother, the women have had their youngest daughter at age 40. Of course, they usually had their first kid 20 years earlier, but at least they spaced them out.


@chnellociraptor See, my grandma makes me feel young: she had my mother at the age of 40 in 1944. There was just the one kid.


I got married at the exact average age, but also had my kid out of wedlock beforehand. Had no idea I was so crushingly normal!

Also, I side-eye this entire thing, for reasons I can't explain. Maybe the use of the term "tying the knot" which makes me want to stick a fork in my brain.

RK Fire

@hallelujah So many side eyes, so little time..


Not gonna look, feeling like enough of a failure.

*woman drinking alone with withering ovaries*


@JanieS Ditto.
Woman crying alone with laptop


@JanieS Woman hung over alone watching college basketball games at work instead of working.


@JanieS Double ditto.
Woman Turning 30 Next Week and Alone but Not Laughing with Salad


"These results are consistent with research that the responsibility ethic associated with marriage makes men, including twentysomething men, harder, smarter, and better-paid workers."

...or that employers are biased towards married men and against married women? Your conclusions are biased and strange.

Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that)

@squishycat Yes. This. I've felt recently that somehow there's a bias against me because I'm unmarried and don't have children and thus have less responsibility than my married co-workers.


Nothing to do with the content (I'm printing it out so I can read it on my lunch break) but man, it's PRETTY. A+ to the creator for print media eye candy, at least.

RK Fire

@Scandyhoovian It is pretty. However, after reading Left or Right of the Color Line? Asian Americans and the Racial Justice Movement (which is awesome, btw) I'm feeling a kneejerk side-eye to:

-the complete absence of black/browner people graphics
-the fact that the couple that I'm interpreting as Asian (could just be because I am Asian, they could very well not be intended to be visually read as Asian) is the one in grad school, 'cause of course, "model minorities" and all.

But of course, this is all secondary to me side-eying the actual conclusions they're drawing, as well as their description of the "Middle American woman."


@RK Fire
Have you read 'Is the Radical Critique of Merit Anti-Semitic?'? I expect you would disagree with at least some of it (I only partly agree with it), but I think you'd find it interesting. Despite the title, it deals with both Jews and Asian-Americans. You can probably start right in at Section II on page 869 (journal pagination--don't freak out).



I'm having trouble putting in the link. Try this: http://ow.ly/jkn6D

RK Fire

@Rock and Roll Ken Doll I have not! I just took a look at the abstract and I think you're right on both counts: I think I'd disagree with parts of it (based on the abstract) but it is interesting.

The premise/assumptions remind me a bit of Eric Liu's The Accidental Asian, where at one point he basically posits that Asian Americans are the "new Jews." Lots to unpackage in that statement, so let me just say that I disagree for a number of reasons!


@Rock and Roll Ken Doll Fascinating! I'm only about a third of the way through, but wanted to take a moment to thank you for sharing. :)

elysian fields

@RK Fire I feel the same. I'm pretty sure the experience of the "Middle American woman" (which ... what do they even mean by that??) is VASTLY different depending on whether the woman is white, black, Hispanic, East Asian, South Asian, etc. This is one case where ethnicity/cultural background really seems to matter, and it doesn't make sense to ignore that.

elysian fields

Isn't the 20-something birthrate for black ladies so high (like, over 80%, according to the footnote on page 18) because so many black men are incarcerated? Right? Why wasn't that addressed? I understand that they wanted to focus on broad trends, but there's a big difference between "can't get married because guys my age mostly don't have good jobs" vs. "can't get married because guys my age are mostly *in prison*."


And, one more thing... I'd like to see the birth rates vs. marital status analyzed in comparison with access to birth control and abortion in various states. I have a hunch there's a reason the "middle American woman" is having more kids in her 20s.


Just, gah, everything about this makes me mad and defensive. I hate the assumption that marriage is panacea to any and every social problem. Every damn issue they identify could be addressed by something other than marriage. Marriage doesn't magically fix all the problems. Access to education, income equality, reproductive justice and so much else would accomplish the same thing AND help rid us of the ridiculous notion that the only acceptable family is the nuclear family.

Of course, I say this as a 26 year old mama cohabitating with her partner of 8 years and co-parenting a 6 month old, so. Yeah.

We're happy with our family. We're doing just fine, and giving our daughter all the stability and love she needs. We're also doing it while showing her that there are lots and lots of ways to build a family.

Funded by the William E. Simon Foundation.

"Named after its principal benefactor, the William E. Simon Foundation supports programs that are intended to strengthen the free enterprise system and the spiritual values on which it rests: individual freedom, initiative, thrift, self-discipline and faith in God."

Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that)

@S. Elizabeth I have all of those things, and yet am unmarried, have no kids, and, well, you read the graphs. I AM AN ANOMALY

@Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that) It's more to point out that this was funded by an organization that has a horse in the race. There's bound to be bias. I mean, they're talking about the free enterprise system and spiritual values, so it makes sense that they've found that marriage = good for you and your money and THE FAMILY.


Ohh, it's in color? It must be true!


Everything in this article is interesting to me, but that may be because it (in part) reaffirms a lot of my life choices (ie: college educated, married at 27, plan to have children after 30). My only answer to the perceived problem is BIRTH CONTROL FOR EVERYONE (who doesn't want to get knocked up)!

My own mother had four kids by the time she was my age (29), and did not earn her bachelors degree until the last of us was in kindergarten, so I think a lot of my decisions were based on what a struggle that was for them financially; I'm sure there are a lot of 20-30 year olds who have made that decision for the same reason.

Also just realized that I do drink less now that I'm married (still no kids), and that is DEPRESSING.


"If you ain't got two kids by 21, / You're probably gonna die alone / At least that's what tradition told you." -- Kacey Musgraves, Merry Go Round


Just the name of the group tells me I need a mouthful of salt to take with this study. Expectation bias much?

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