Skip to main content

Single Seventies

May 2024
1min read

I enjoyed “How the Seventies Changed America” (July/August), after I recovered from the shock to my babyboomer mentality of seeing that any decade of which I had a clear recollection could be classified as historical. However, there was one statistical point that I considered misleading. Mr. Lemann wrote: “As the country was becoming more fragmented, so was the essential social unit, the family. In 1965 only 14.9 percent of the population was single; by 1979 the figure had risen to 20 percent.”

Throughout much of our country’s history, anywhere from 20 to 25 percent of the population remained single. But the 1950s and 1960s saw, among other postwar anomalies, a steady increase in the percentage of people who married. So while the current percentage of single adults may seem artificially high compared with the peak marrying decades, it is in line with figures for most of the years before that time.

We hope you enjoy our work.

Please support this magazine of trusted historical writing, now in its 75th year, and the volunteers that sustain it with a donation to American Heritage.