Most Households Are Now Headed By Singles

We’ve known this was coming for decades, and now it’s here. More than 50% of households in America (and Alabama) are headed by a single person (either divorced, never married, or widowed). The figure hovers at just over 50% for the U.S. and for Alabama. Here’s a story about it from the Athens News Courier.

That’s the easy part, understanding the reality of the statistic. The challenge comes when we as a culture try to discern its meanings and lessons.

For starters, we will need to rethink how we allocate employee and tax benefits and Social Security. The system we have in place now is designed to maximize its support of couples who live together with children. Do we want to continue this? Do we wish to reward these traditional families at the expense of those headed by single persons?

And if the answer to the first question is yes, try this reframe: are you, the majority of households headed by single persons, willing to live with less and be treated less generously by your government so that those households with two parents and children living together (which tend to be more affluent anyway) can live in greater luxury?

I honestly don’t have a point of view on these issues. I do believe we need to have a thoughtful, national, and public discussion about them.