July 17, 2007

Women Who Say Single Women Can Be Happy

83%

More than eight-in-ten American women (83%) say that it is possible for a woman to lead a complete and happy life if she remains single; a lesser percentage of men (70%) say the same thing about a man.

Despite the value that most Americans continue to place on marriage, and despite the fact that married adults are significantly more satisfied with their lives than are unmarried adults, a Pew survey finds that more than eight-in-ten American women (83%) say that it is possible for a woman to lead a complete and happy life if she remains single; a lesser percentage of men (70%) say the same thing about a man. Overall 79% of Americans say that it is possible for a woman to lead a complete and happy life if she remains single, while two-thirds (67%) say the same thing about a man. Both of these percentages are up compared with a 1985 survey. There’s some evidence of gender solidarity in these responses. Women are bit more likely than men to say that women can be happy and fulfilled if they remain single. Meantime, men are slightly more likely than women to say that men can be happy and fulfilled if they remain single. Both genders agree, however, that it’s somewhat more difficult for unmarried men than for unmarried women to lead a happy and fulfilled life. Hispanics are the one demographic group that has a very distinctive view on these questions. A majority of them (52%) say that a man cannot lead a complete and happy life if he remains single, and a substantial minority (38%) says the same thing about a woman. More so than whites or blacks, Hispanics tend to see marriage as essential to adult fulfillment. At the other end of the spectrum are seculars. Nearly all of them (94%) say a woman can be happy and fulfilled if she remains single. However, just 75% of seculars say the same thing about men, meaning that seculars make a bigger distinction between men and woman on this question than does the rest of the adult population. Read More