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Singles/Never Married Persons


The increase in those remaining single may, in part, reflect changes in social attitudes and structures related to marriage and singlehood. The lives of the never married are varied and complex. Similarities and differences that exist between the never married and other marital groups are more likely to be influenced by individual characteristics such as gender, age, social class, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and level of education, than by marital status group membership. Further research that examines how these and other factors intersect to shape the lives of the never married within and across different cultures and social contexts will help us to learn more not only about those who remain single, but also about the structure and experiences within marriage, families, and social roles and relationships more broadly.


Adams, M. (1978). Single Blessedness. New York: Penguin.

Allen, K. R., and Pickett, R. S. (1987). "Forgotten Streams in Family Life Course: Utilization of Qualitative Retrospective Interviews in the Analysis of Lifelong Single Women's Family Careers." Journal of Marriage and the Family 49:517–526.

Austrom, D. R. (1984). The Consequences of Being Single. New York: Peter Lang.

Bedard, M. (1992). Breaking with Tradition: Diversity, Conflict and Change in Contemporary American Families. Dix Hills, NY: General Hall.

Campbell, L. D.; Connidis, I. A.; and Davies, L. (1999). "Sibling Ties in Later Life: A Social Network Analysis." Journal of Family Issues 20(1):114–148.

Chambers-Schiller, L. (1984). Liberty, a Better Husband: Single Women in America: The Generations of 1780–1840. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Chudacoff, H. P. (1999). The Age of the Bachelor: Creating an American Subculture. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Edwards, M., and Hoover, E. (1974). The Challenge of Being Single. New York: Signet Books.

Ferguson, S. (2000). "Challenging Traditional Marriage: Never Married Chinese American and Japanese American Women." Gender and Society 14(1):136–159.

O'Brien, M. (1991). "Never Married Older Women: The Life Experience." Social Indicators Research 24:301–315.

Raymo, J. (1998). "Later Marriages or Fewer? Changes in the Marital Behaviour of Japanese Women." Journal of Marriage and the Family 60:1023–1034.

Rubinstein, R. L. (1987). "Never Married Elderly as a Social Type: Re-evaluating Some Images." The Gerontologist 27(1):108–113.

Simon, B. L. (1987). Never Married Women. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Stein, P. J. (1975). "Singlehood: An Alternative To Marriage." Family Coordinator 24:489–503.

Stein, P. J. (1976). Single. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Stein, P. J. (1981). "Understanding Single Adulthood." In Single Life: Unmarried Adults in Social Context, ed. P. J. Stein. New York: St. Martin's Press.

Unger, R., and Crawford, M. (1992). Women and Gender: A Feminist Psychology. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Other Resources

U. S. Bureau of the Census. (1999). Current Population Reports. From Statistical Abstract of the United States, 1999. Available from http://www.ameristat.org.


Additional topics

Marriage and Family EncyclopediaFamily Theory & Types of FamiliesSingles/Never Married Persons - Social And Historical Context Of Singlehood, Psychosocial Characteristics Of The Never Married, Culture, Ethnicity, And The Never Married