More of us are living alone.  (The Attraction of Solitude ECONOMIST vol. 404 no. 8799 August 25, 2012 page 47) and the “us” is not just the US.  In the United Arab Emirates 60% of women over 30 are unmarried.  (Yes, yes.  I know.  Who could blame them?) That’s up from just 20% in 1995.  The government is understandably concerned.  There is concern in the US, also.  Both countries spend money trying to encourage people to get married. 

I have lived alone most of my life.  I always wanted to marry and have children, but what I wanted and what I managed to do have been poles apart.  I can’t tell you what other people want.  Most will say that what they have done is what they wanted to do. 

Of course my own impression that failure to marry close enough kin has degraded out fertility is the dinosaur in the room.  Are they related?  It would seem they have to be.  But the change in the United Arab Emirates has been so fast that it seems impossible.  Let’s see.  Assume the population of the UAE is constant to a first approximation.  In 1995 80% of women over 30 were married.  Assume nobody is getting married at all.  And assume that divorce is zero.  The only way out is death.  After 17 years the number of marrieds is 40%, half what it was so there is a 40% drop.  If no widows died and no widowers died, then we could say that 20% of the men over thirty died in 17 years and 20% of women.  The life expectancy in the UAR is 76.  Assume they all die on their 76th birthday.  From 30 to 76 is 46 years.  17 years gone by / 46 years, which would have killed all of them, is 36%.  That’s more than 20%, so yes it’s possible.  But wow.  That’s really pushing it. 

The article goes on to say we and the UAE are not the first to try to encourage marriage.  Augustus Caesar saw how low the marriage rate was and was alarmed enough to put a tax (I think you would call it a fine) on being single.  The marriage rate fell even lower.

So I suppose along with not having children, and along with not wanting children, and along with refusing to consider that this behavior on a population wide basis is slow death, we have to say people don’t even want to live with others of the same age. 

And it looks like it’s all due to the same thing. 

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