Single People Make Less Money Than Those With Partners, Research Finds

By Charlie Wells

Being single has always been taxing. New data show just how hard it can be on an individual’s finances.

Nearly 40 percent of Americans between the ages of 25 and 54 were living without a spouse or partner in 2019, according to a new analysis of census data by the Pew Research Center. That’s a marked increase from 1990, when just 29 percent of Americans were unpartnered. 

Photo by Git Stephen Gitau from Pexels

Since then, the economic outcomes for single people have declined relative to those with partners. 

“Unpartnered adults have lower earnings, on average, than partnered adults and are less likely to be employed or economically independent,” the report found. “They also have lower educational attainment and are more likely to live with their parents.”

The median earnings for single men in 2019 were $35,600, compared with $57,000 for partnered men. The gap for women was $32,000 versus $40,000. 

About 73 percent of single men were employed in 2019, compared with 91 percent of partnered men. It’s the inverse for women: 77 percent of single women were employed in 2019, compared with 74 percent of partnered women. Economic outcomes for unpartnered men have gotten worse since 1990, whereas the economic outcomes for partnered women have improved, according to Pew. 

The report also found something of a “marriage bonus” for people who have tied the knot versus partners who are simply cohabiting. Some 89 percent of men living with a partner, for instance, are employed, compared with 92 percent of married men.

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