Singles in the U.S.

April R. McDowell

April R. McDowell, Ph.D. Family Science

People often speculate over the availability of single adults across the U.S. and if there are particular cities that may be better than others in terms of the odds of finding a mate. Without looking at real data, one can only make guesses about this. Thus, the purpose of this article is to shed some more light on this topic and provide some actual data upon which some conclusions may be drawn. It is important to note that the data presented and conclusions drawn here are geared toward heterosexual men and women (i.e., single adults looking for a mate of the opposite sex).

Among the 25 most populated U.S. cities, 10 were selected and data was gathered on their gender ratios (percentage of females to males), marital status statistics, and median age. An effort was made to include cities across the country, including some on both the East and West Coasts. The following chart shows these 10 cities and their data. Cities are organized here by their gender ratios:

Table 1* County-level data
Note: All data is 2012 U.S. Census data with the exception of Seattle, WA, which is 2011 data.

As one can see here, among these cities there appears to be an overall trend of gender ratios skewing toward more women per men. Interestingly, the cities where this did not occur (Seattle, Houston, Phoenix and San Diego) are all in the western half of the U.S. Looking at this from a dating perspective, if you’re a single man you may have better chances of finding a mate in the major U.S. cities than a single woman would. If you’re a single woman, you may want to head west, as the odds appear to be more in your favor in those cities. It is important to note, however, that this gender ratio data covers all people in these areas and does not take into account the fact that many of these people may be married or otherwise unavailable for dating (e.g., children).

In order to get a better sense of availability for dating, marital status data was also obtained. Overall, the cities with the highest percentages of single, never-married people were Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, PA and Chicago, IL. These cities also had some of the highest gender ratio figures overall skewed toward higher percentages of women. One possible conclusion to draw from this trend is that these cities may be better suited for single men looking for female partners who are single and have never been married. Conversely, the cities with the lowest percentages of single, never-married people were Phoenix, AZ, Houston, TX and San Diego, CA. A possible conclusion to draw from this trend is that single adults, both men and women, may have lower chances of finding potential mates in these cities.

Further marital status information was gathered on single adults besides those who have never been married. Specifically, data was gathered on those who are currently separated or divorced, assuming that many of these people are available for dating (and assuming that never married people are open to dating them). All 10 cities had low rates of separated people, ranging from 1.3 percent in Seattle up to 3.5 percent in Houston. However, divorce rates were much higher in these cities, ranging from 7.9 percent in New York up to 12 percent in Phoenix. Taking into account those who are separated and divorced shows that the actual availability of singles in a given city may be much higher than one may first think by just looking at the percentages of single, never-married people. For example, although Phoenix had the lowest percentage of single, never-married people (37.2 percent) of all of the cities examined here, it happens to have the highest percentage of divorced people (12 percent), which means that the overall rate of available singles may be similar to that of other cities on the list. However, this may also mean that the available singles in a city like Phoenix are older than in other places since adults who are divorced tend to be older than never-married adults.

In order to provide a fuller picture of dating availability in major U.S. cities, a final piece of data was obtained for each city: median age. (Note: This data was county-level data.) Overall, the median age was similar across cities and ranged from 32.1 years in Houston up to 36.1 years in Seattle. Because there was not a large range of ages across these cities, it is difficult to draw conclusions here that may be useful for single adults on the dating market. However, these figures do help shed more light on what one may expect for a given city’s demographic picture.

In addition to the data provided here on these major cities, a final list was compiled as a last bit of food for thought for singles in the U.S. If a single adult is open to looking in smaller cities and towns, there are many across the U.S. that have very high percentages of single, never-married men and women. The following chart provides the top 10 U.S. cities and towns with the highest percentages of young men and women, specifically between the ages of 18-34. Included here is the population of each of these cities and towns and the percentages of single, never married people within the predominate gender:

table 2

All of the top three places for both genders lie on the East Coast, and nearly all of these 20 places fall in Northeastern or Southern U.S. states. Another interesting fact that this chart does not display is that many of these places are college towns. For example, the highest percentage of young, never-married males may be found in Naval Academy, MD, which is the municipality designated for the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD, while the second-highest percentage of such males is found in State College, PA, which is home to Pennsylvania State University (more commonly known as “Penn State”). Similarly, the highest percentages of single, never-married women is found in Durham, NH, which houses the University of New Hampshire and Clarion, PA, which houses Clarion University, both of which are predominantly female state universities. A major conclusion to draw here is that young singles may have the overall best odds of finding a mate in and around college towns in the U.S. Of course, if one is in college while looking for their mate, hopefully their studies are taking priority!

For more detailed information and actual pictures of all of the U.S. cities and towns listed here, visit www.City-Data.com.

 

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About April R. McDowell

April R. McDowell

April R. McDowell, Ph.D. Family Science

Dr. McDowell is a Marriage & Family Therapist in Silver Spring, MD and has been working with individuals, couples and families since 2005. Her accomplishments include years of experience conducting social science research, national conference presentations and two peer-reviewed publications to date. In addition to her clinical work she provides research and writing consulting services. Visit her website at www.am-therapy.com.

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