THE BLOG

The Single-arity: Rise of the Solo Citizen

03/05/2013 04:55 pm ET | Updated May 05, 2013
  • Faith Popcorn Founder and CEO, Faith Popcorn's BrainReserve; Best-selling author and consumer trend expert

As marriage equality has evolved over the last year we have become wildly aware of one overlooked group: The Single.

It's official. The nuclear family has had a meltdown.

In the last decade Single households have increased by 30 percent worldwide. By 2020 there will be 331 million Single households globally. The U.S. will lead with 36.3 million, followed by Japan (31.6 million) and China (18.2 million).

Singles come from every nationality, age demographic, religion, sexual orientation and gender. But they have one thing in common: Living uncomfortable and ignored in a married person's world. In 2013, it's changing on every level.

Singledom is creating the new aspiration. New single role models will emerge to set the social standard. In the future even the president will be single.

In 1970 a person who wanted to remain single their whole life was considered "sick" by 80 percent of the population. As 50 percent of all marriages end in divorce, is it crazy to be single or insane to be married?

Singles will no longer be considered less than their married counterparts. Soon, traditional marriage won't be considered the ideal or even the norm.

Major sociological and cultural changes have made remaining single a viable preference:

• Crumbling Gender Barriers: Growing wage equality and female dominated growth industries are ending women's dependence on marriage.

• Current Tax Laws: England's "couple penalty" actually makes being married more expensive than being single. Many couples will get tax divorces, ending their marriage on paper while their relationship continues unchanged.

• Democratization of Education: The advent of distance learning allows us to choose and change regularly who we want to become, who we want to be with and what direction we'll go over and over throughout our lifetime.

Single is the new black. Single culture will define the mainstream trends of tomorrow.

In much the same way that gay culture inspires mainstream trends, Singles are becoming the new leading edge. They are cultivators of taste and spending on art, new cuisine, hobbies and theater. Without the responsibilities and financial commitments of marriage, Singles are able to indulge in more luxury purchases without having to justify or feel guilty about their splurges and whims.

Singles spend 33 percent more on themselves than their married friends with children, accounting for 1.5 trillion dollars annually. Smart marketers will look to attract Singles in order to find a place into the general zeitgeist.

Why go after the Single Consumer?

• Celebration: Single status is being celebrated in the culture. In 2012 China created "Singles Day" to honor its growing solo population, including parties, karaoke and massive online discounts which drove sales to record levels.

• Technology: Singles own more smartphones (49 percent) than married people (43 percent) and utilize more leading edge apps and programs, like location based tracking and ambient discovery.

• Dating: Singles are participating in a 24/7 dating ritual in restaurants, clubs, and both men and women are heavy consumers of beauty products.

Children of single parent families will be better prepared for the future.

Preliminary studies indicate that they are more adept at handling conflict, responsibility, disappointment and have a clearer sense of life priorities than two-parent children. Their participation in their own upbringing helps them become more of a partner with their parent and depend more on their extended community.

In many ways singles make better parents than their married friends. Single homes, free of the stress that weighs upon many marriages, provide a more ideal environment for a child.

How will single parenting change the child-rearing landscape?

• Co-op parenting: Single parents are coming together, whether through informal networks or communal living arrangements, providing a trusted organic support system.

• Outsourcing: Singles will give over parenting tasks to aids that transcend the traditional roles of tutors and nannies. A new industry will be birthed wherein highly educated child care professionals serve as life coaches, personal assistants and paid godparents.

• Single Motherhood: 53 percent of all children born to women under 30 are born to single mothers. This number will increase as more research proves the benefits of Single-parent households.

Single Women will become the new bachelors, avoiding long term committed relationships.

Men and women will adapt to The Single-arity differently. For women, being single will be easier, and more beneficial than it is for men simply because women are better self-nurturers and thus better able to care for themselves.

The number of single women exploded in the last three decades. In 1979 only 18 percent of women under 50 were unmarried. Today 51% find themselves single and happy to be so.

Their mounting power in society (that we detailed in last year's prediction, The SHE-Change) will make it difficult to find men of equal stature. The growing number of single-sex social clubs like Grace Belgravia, where women can share information, frustrations, make business and social contacts all away from unwanted male attention are an indicator of the new female independence.

Single women will continue to grow in power and influence.

• Voting Power: Barack Obama has always been a favorite amongst female voters, but in the 2012 election, it was the unmarried women who cinched his victory, many of them Hispanic.

• Finances: Single women are out earning men, buying more homes and outperforming them in the stock market. Even Warren Buffet is said to invest like a woman by his fiscally monogamous style.

• Education: By 2016, women are projected to earn 64 percent of associate's degrees, 60 percent of bachelor's degrees, 63 percent of master's degrees, and 56 percent of doctorates. The proportion of women in law school increased from 3.7 percent in 1963 to 44 percent in the academic year 2007- 2008.

"'Til death do you part" is unrealistic in a world where people live past 100.

There are 17 million single Americans over the age of 65. The unmarried Boomer population has grown by 50 percent since 1980. The divorce rate among Baby Boomers has doubled in the last 20 years. Eighty-two percent of divorced women 60+ have no desire to get married again.

As we live longer and the number of life stages people experience increases, marriages will have an expiration date with an option to renew. People will have several of these marriages throughout a lifetime, with long stretches of being single in between.

Marriage will no longer be able to keep up with life:

• Divorce Redefined: Newly single Boomers are redefining divorce, turning dysfunctional marriages into convenient cohabitation arrangements, mutually beneficial financial relationships, and deep friendships maintaining family bonds.

• Fertility: New breakthroughs in fertility medicine will make having babies at seventy a safe and ordinary practice. Premium sperm and eggs will be so plentiful that Singles will be able to pick them up at Spermbucks or bid for specialty samples on Egg-Bay.com.

• Partners: People will no longer seek a life-partner, but instead will have "lives-partners"; someone to live with, someone to have children with, someone to vacation with and someone to have sex with in tandem.