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• • •There is little debate that American adults are far less likely to be married than they were two generations ago.
In 1950, married couples represented 78 percent of households in the United States.
Particularly for college graduates, this delay in marriage has ushered in a new phase of life that sociologists are calling “emerging adulthood” or, less charitably, “delayed adolescence.” This is a time when people focus on their careers and their own personal fulfillment, sociologists say: They go out to dinner, work late hours, and make close groups of friends that are sometimes dubbed “urban tribes.” And while there has been some hand-wringing about this, with worries about a lack of maturity among young American adults today, a number of scholars who study singles point out that this group is the antidote to another point of cultural anxiety: the decline in community.
College-educated singles are moving into old downtown buildings and spending money in revitalizing urban centers.
Denison, who moved to Boston when she was 26, lives in a far different reality.“There are tons of single people in Boston,” she says.And it is singles, not marrieds, who are the most active in their communities.“When people get married, they have less contact with their friends, their siblings, their neighborhood,” De Paulo says, adding that studies show this is true even with people who are married and don’t have children.When Karin Denison was in her early 20s, it seemed that all her peers were coupling up and planning to live happily ever after.She spent the summers after college driving to friends’ weddings, she recalls.