Singletude: A Positive Blog for Singles

Singletude is a positive, supportive singles blog about life choices for the new single majority. It's about dating and relationships, yes, but it's also about the other 90% of your life--family, friends, career, hobbies--and flying solo and sane in this crazy, coupled world. Singletude isn't about denying loneliness. It's about realizing that whether you're single by choice or by circumstance, this single life is your life to live.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Singles in the News: 1/24/10-1/30/10

With this week's installment, Singletude reluctantly announces that the weekly "Singles in the News" feature is coming to an end. Those of you who've been following along know that I've looked for ways to cut back while preserving the column's flavor, but even those measures haven't been sufficient. The fact remains that Singletude doesn't have adequate funding to support a time-consuming weekly publication like "Singles in the News" while still covering other singles issues. For awhile, I considered turning this into more of a singles news blog, but the feedback I've been getting suggests that readers would prefer more variety. (Anyone who thinks otherwise is welcome to speak up!)

Although I'm sad to say goodbye to "Singles in the News," working on the column for the past six months or so opened my eyes to a number of singles issues I was previously unaware of, especially in other countries. I hope it was similarly revealing for all of you. Although the regular news feature is ending, Singletude will continue to call individual noteworthy stories to your attention as they develop. Likewise, the Singles With Singletude Award and the Singleschmucker will still be handed out from time to time. And, of course, the Singles in the News reader on the homepage will keep reporting breaking headlines, so feel free to check in for the latest as often as you'd like.

In the future, should I find the means to do it, I hope to revive "Singles in the News" as a regular column. Anyone who has an interest in seeing that happen is invited to join me in contributing his or her time, talent, and passion for singles issues as a blogger for "Singles in the News." If I could find even one or two bloggers to divide news days with me, I'm sure the column could be up and running again in no time.

Till then, I leave you with the last "Singles in the News" post. Enjoy! Thanks for reading!


"Stop Looking for Mr. Right and Look for Mr. Right Now, Author Tells Women"
By Amy Willis
The Daily Telegraph
Summary: Sheeeeee's baaa-aaack. Not content with The Atlantic, Lori Gottlieb, who Singletude took to task in "'Marry Him' by Lori Gottlieb: A Singletude Response," has decided to target a wider audience with her matrimaniacal scare tactics by publishing a book. It's called Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough. The title should need no further explanation. This disappointing article is obviously on board with her views, even recruiting a psychologist to back them. Apparently, there's also a movie deal in the works, and Tobey Maguire is attached to it. (His spidey senses are really off on this one!) While the author and her supporters have a point about realism--anyone who wants to get married should be prepared for a lot of hard work and should by no means expect perfection from a partner--Gottlieb actually advocates marrying someone you don't love and seems to think women who prefer the single life are mythical creatures.


"Ladies Spread Love of Single Life This Valentine's Day"
Summary: Single ladies in Great Britain are sending snarky anti-Valentine's Day cards to each other.

"Single British Asian Mums Losing Their 'Honour Babies'"
By Ushma Mistry
Summary: This report sheds light on the plight of young, unwed mothers in South Asian immigrant communities, many of whom are forced to place their babies with adoptive families so as not to "shame" their parents.

"Trees for Cities Tree-planting to Help Singles Looking for Love in Manchester"
Summary: Singletude sees a lot of speed dating events every week, and most of them aren't newsworthy. But this one in Manchester, England offers a new twist on an old theme. Singles will be paired with partners to plant trees for the city in a community service project. We could sure use some speed dating events with a social conscience on this side of the Atlantic!


"Uncommon Law: Miss or Mrs.--What's the Court's Business?"
By Chinua Asuzu
Summary: In Nigeria, it's common practice for female attorneys to state their marital status in court, while men are subjected to no such requirement. To his credit, this male attorney asks why.

"Unlikely Alliances Work to Save Minnesota's Health-Care Program for the Poor"
By Casey Selix
Summary: Singletude has been following the fate of Minnesota's General Assistance Medical Care (GAMC), a program for low-income, child-free singles. Encouragingly, individuals, businesses, and organizations from all walks of life--even conservatives--are banding together to support the endangered program at a rally on February 4. This article takes an in-depth look at the unprecedented action to save GAMC in the midst of an uphill battle for funding. In the meantime, Minnesota has agreed to extend the program for a month longer than originally planned.

"We Must Never Stop Searching for Mr. Right"
By Becky Pugh
The Sydney Morning Herald
Summary: It wasn't long before rebuttals to Lori Gottlieb's book (see above) were zinging back across cyberspace. This one was particularly well stated. Pugh protests, "We don't accept mediocrity from our government; we don't accept mediocrity in our careers; and we don't accept it in our friendships. Why should we accept it in marriage?" She goes on to explain why 30 can no longer be touted as a benchmark age for single women hoping to marry and urges these same women not to trap themselves in loveless marriages just because "if you're lucky enough to have a big house, a good car, a husband and some children, the consensus is that you've hit the jackpot." Finally, she makes room for single women to fire back. As one says, "'...Maybe Mr. Right won't ever come along, and maybe some of us will live out our years as spinsters. For some people, it doesn't happen at all. Is that thought so awful?'" Not for this single woman!


Singles With Singletude Award
"Singles Subsidising [sic] Married"
By Mary Minihan
The Irish Times
Summary: Leo Varadkar, an Irish politician, is quite possibly the first legislator in the Western world to criticize a tax system that discriminates against singles. (The Irish system apparently operates very similarly to ours in this regard.) Says Varadkar, who is single, "'There would be people in this House for example who have the same income as me who have stay-at-home wives who don’t work, yet they pay less tax than I do....You have single people effectively subsidising the lifestyles of people who happen to be married.'" Varadkar states that he knows he'll get a lot of flak for voicing this injustice. That's probably true, and it's sad that, after all these years, any industrialized nation would still actively oppose equal treatment for all under the law. Singletude hopes that US lawmakers will follow Varadkar's example and stand up for what's right and that singles here will unite to support any candidate who does. (Part of the problem, folks, is that we singletons are just not vocal enough in the political sphere.) This is a short article, but it wins the Singles With Singletude Award for helping a pro-single politician speak out for marital status equality and for doing so without a hint of the irony or condescension that often inform such pieces.

"Slopes Trails"
By Sarah Lemon
Mail Tribune
Summary: In Oregon, a singles club called Slopes and Trails helps single adults make friends while staying physically fit. Members say it's "'more of an activities group than a dating group'" and that some have found "'lifelong friends.'"


Singleschmucker Award
"Married Men Can Earn a Third More Than Their Single Counterparts"
By Keri Sutherland
The Daily Mail
Summary: This article opens with the statement, "Married men earn nearly one third more than single males because they work harder, new research reveals." Laypeople cannot access the study in question, "Marriage and Earnings: Why Do Married Men Earn More Than Single Men?" by Matthias Pollmann-Schult of the University of Bielefeld in Germany. However, the abstract and this article make it clear that over 12,000 men were surveyed and that the study was controlled for the effects of age, education, and work experience, yet married men still earned a third more than single men did. This is not because wives were picking up the slack at home, allowing their husbands to get more done at work, the research reports, but because "'a lower level of pay satisfaction induces married men to put more effort into their work, which leads to higher wages.'" Without reading the source material, it's hard to know what the study really shows, but count me among the skeptics. I can believe that men become less satisfied with their paychecks after they get married; their wives usually expect them to be "providers" and bring home the bacon to buy a house, new furniture, and piano lessons for the kids. But in order to assess whether married men actually work harder, we would have to compare the number of hours they work per week to the number of hours that single men work. This study also attempts to prove that the income disparity between single and married men is due entirely to the latter's alleged penchant for working longer hours at the office. In order to isolate that as the "cause," researchers would need to find some way to demonstrate that employers don't favor married men for promotions, raises, and big projects that could lead to either. This is difficult because chances are few executives will admit to discriminating against single workers. Nevertheless, until we have conclusive evidence that employers have leveled the playing field for single and married men, we can't say that married men are better compensated because they somehow earned it.

"Single, But Not Alone"
By Nandita Sengupta
The Times of India
Summary: In India, single women are just beginning to emerge from centuries of objectification and brutalization. But plenty still find themselves violently victimized. Now, instead of looking to husbands to protect them, they look to the law and advocacy groups.

Do you have thoughts on any of the stories above? (When commenting, please reference the title of the article.)

Want to stay current on changes in the world that impact singles? Read the latest news about singles every day! Check out the Singletude newsreader under Singles in the News on the homepage!

Do you have a question for Clever Elsie about some aspect of the single life? Have an unpublished rant or rave about singlehood? Write in, and you just might see your question in a "Singletude Q&A" or your rant or rave in a "Singletude Sound-off"! Singletude makes every effort to publish submissions in their original form but reserves the right to edit for length and clarity.


Alan said...

I went back to Singled Out, and I read that one study did show that married men worked 2.2 weeks per year more than single men, which could account for some of the difference.

But while estimates vary between 4% and 50%, the average pay disparity between married and single men is 26%, more than could be accounted for by an extra 2 weeks.

You could just as easily title this study "Single men less materialistic than married men". If I was married I'd probably be getting pressure to get a second, part time job in order to buy a house. I could do that now...I'm an RN and work 3 twelve hour shifts per weeks. But I find I enjoy having extra time to think, and can do without the extra income.

April said...

I will miss this feature of Singletude, but I totally understand. Thanks for all you've done to open up my eyes about these issues!

Clever Elsie said...

Alan: Good idea! That book is such a rich reference, isn't it? Thank you for looking up and analyzing that additional information.

"Single men less materialistic than married men"--I love it! It's amazing how much titles and headlines can color our perception of research results.

April: And thank you for reading!

Special K said...

I love Alan's comments. I think when we are in any relationship, there is pressure to take care of each other. That's not necessarily a bag thing. Do you think married men work more to escape home responsibilities or because being at work in more affirming for them?
Even if you did ONE of these stories and had us reflect on it, it's be well worth it!

Wag the Dog said...

I downloaded the German study via the college account, expecting distortions by the Daily Mail and wasn't surprised. What the report says after regression analysis has been applied is: "The OLS results indicate that married men earn about 7 percent more than singlemen, holding education, experience, number of children, and other factors constant. The earnings difference between
cohabiting and single men is somewhat smaller, amounting to 4 percent. These estimated wage
premia are much lower than the wage differentials observed in the rawdata (Table 1), indicating that
married and cohabiting men compared to single men have observable characteristics, such as longer work experience, higher age or a higher level of education, that positively affect the wage rate."

Going by the Daily Mail article you'd be misled into thinking the marriage premium was actually a lot higher. But overall the original research was directed at testing the specialisation hypothesis (whether women do more house work for married men), for which the author found little evidence. Analysis did show some evidence of discrimination -- the marriage premium seemed not to affect the self-employed. But the author cautions against taking this as conclusive.

However, the final summary gives a clearer picture than any Daily Mail article: "In accordance with previous studies, the analyses carried out in this article have shown that a large part of the wage differential between married and single men is due to selection processes. However, after accounting for selection effects, a significant marriage wage premium remains. The findings presented here contradict the popular hypothesis that the earnings advantage of married men over single men results from the division of labour within the household. Previous studies testing the specialization hypothesis of the marriage wage premium have used the wife’s working hours as a proxy for household specialization. Finding a lower wage premium for men whose wives are employed as compared to men with home making spouses, these studies suggest that married men devote more time and energy to their job and thereby receive
higher wages."

In other words, when men become hitched to women (especially those not earning) they feel they have to work harder to financially support more than just themselves. Big news!

"The attitude hypothesisis
further supported by our finding that married men are less satisfied with their income and are more likely to feel under-rewarded than single men. In all, our results suggest that the wage premium of married men largely results from higher financial demands, especially when the wife does not participate in the labour market."

The way I read this is, if I want to become less satisfied with my job, get married.

Sorry, to see this regular feature go. Hope you do still point to the occasional flawed reporting of studies where editorial is pushing an agenda.

Clever Elsie said...

Special K: I'm guessing you meant that question for Alan, but I'll take a stab at it, too. I suspect some married men work more because of either or both of the reasons you listed. I also think married men might work more because they have bigger expenses or think they should have bigger expenses (i.e., the need to "provide"). I got the sense Alan was getting at this in his comment.

Wag the Dog: Thank you for getting a hold of the original study! This is such a fantastic, thorough analysis! I've really appreciated your contributions to "Singles in the News" over the last few months and will miss your insights.