Monday, August 20, 2007

No singles here

A single female friend of mine recently pointed me to this Oct. 2006 article in the Wall Street Journal: America, Up Close and Personal. The WSJ tabulated data from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey to determine (among other things) the 10 counties with the most and the fewest singles.

According to the data, White County, home to Searcy, AR, tops the nation as the county with the fewest percentage of single men: 17.8%. Why so few single men? Here's a quote from the article:
Come high-school graduation, White County, Ark., -- where only 17.8% of the men and 17.6% of the women are unmarried -- sees a steady stream of young weddings, according to Mayor Belinda LaForce of Searcy, the county seat. At nearby Harding University, a Christian liberal arts institution, it is not uncommon for students to marry in the middle of their undergraduate careers.
Why exactly is Harding mentioned? First off, it is not common for students to be married. According to Marty Spears, Assistant VP for Academic Affairs, only 8% of all Harding undergrads are married. Second, a vast majority of Harding students are not from White County and would not be included in the White County census data. Sounds like a red herring to me.

I think the next two statements from the article indicate the primarily reasons for such a low percentage of unmarried men:
"We are a Southern community and a very faith-based community," says Ms. LaForce. Twenty-seven percent of the (White County) population has only a high-school degree, and just 6% of the population has completed a bachelors degree, which is 21 percentage points lower than the national average.
Although Searcy likely has a much higher population of college graduates than the national average, White County is primarily a rural area with lots of farms; a college degree is not necessary for a majority of farm work. And if a man doesn't go to college, he is more likely to start a family. Additionally, living together before being married is frowned upon in an area that is largely Christian, so there is even more of a motivation to marry.