GOOD

Debunking the Data Behind Those “Top Cities for Singles” Lists

Can you really quantify affairs of the heart?

The personal finance website NerdWallet recently crunched some numbers to create a list of the top cities in America for love-seeking singles. The site relied on city-level data from the U.S. Census Bureau about marriage status, median income, and the number of date-friendly businesses, such as restaurants and bars, along with a city’s walkability measure and the average cost of dinner and a movie. Boston claimed the No. 1 spot, while Minneapolis came in at No. 10. Washington, D.C., Cleveland, Atlanta, and Seattle all found spots in between.


[quote position="left" is_quote="true"]We all want to be loved. And everybody loves a good list. But perhaps we share these stories because we’re fascinated by hard data’s ability to reveal matters of the heart. [/quote]

The publication also created separate top 20 city lists for single women and single men based on gender ratios; a city with more men than women works in women’s favor, and vice versa. By this metric, single women should leave their hearts in San Francisco, while men are better off in Baltimore.

Fine metropolises all. But if you’re single and living in, say, D.C., are 70 percent of the residents really ready to swipe right? Not exactly. There are a lot of hidden nuances in the data—and other data sources to consider.

For instance, Pew Research Center has its own take on the best cities for single women, which factors in both male-female ratios and employment status. Nationwide, the number of employed single men is far lower than the total number of women. This is an important gap, because nearly 80 percent of women say they’re looking for a male partner with a job. The single scene looks less sunny, while in tech-centric San Jose, Calif., the top metro area for single women, there are 114 single employed men for every 100 single women.

Everyone, especially Facebook, loves being able to turn affairs of the heart into something they can quantify.

It turns out that NerdWallet cast an awfully wide net for singles, capturing everyone unmarried over age 15. Let’s skip over the teenagers and focus on the millennials, because they’re the ones of average marrying age. According to Pew, 24 percent of singles age 25–34—millennials all—actually live with a romantic partner. They’re not so single after all. Another third live with their parents—cohabitation with Mom or Dad can put a big cramp on dating.

Another factor to consider is the heterosexual orientation of NerdWallet’s report, which doesn’t include data on LGBT singles. That means the number of singles in cities with large LGBT populations, such as San Francisco and Washington, D.C., is a bit misleading. But don’t blame NerdWallet for this fuzziness in the data. Historically, it’s been difficult for demographers to get an accurate count of LGBT people, who have been understandably leery about outing themselves in a society hostile to their sexual orientation. But with cultural acceptance and legal marriage for LGBT Americans on the rise—and U.S. Census Bureau population surveys evolving to reflect the diversity of contemporary life—our ability to see them in the data is also improving.

This analysis was picked up by publications nationwide. Why? Well, we all want to be loved. And everybody loves a good list. But perhaps it’s also because we are fascinated by hard data’s ability to reveal matters of the heart. Right now, the data suggest Americans are conflicted about what love looks like. Does it come with a ring? Does it last? Will we choose to share the rent but not sign the papers?

[quote position="right" is_quote="true"]24 percent of singles age 25–34—millennials all—actually live with a romantic partner. They’re not so single after all. [/quote]

Today we marry later than we used to. From 1960 to today, the median age for women to marry has jumped from 20 to 27. For men, the age has risen from 23 to 29. According to Pew, 53 percent of singles say they want to eventually tie the knot. At the same time, half of all Americans don’t see marriage and children as a priority for society; America is just as well off if people focus on other aspects of life, they say. The younger they are, the more likely they are to say this (67 percent)—and they’re likely to be single at about the same rate.

Moreover, some people may never tie the knot. According to Pew projections based on census data, when today’s young adults reach their mid-40s to mid-50s, a record-high 25 percent of them are likely to have never been married. Here’s a related point to consider. It’s possible some cities have high rates of single residents not because they’re havens for dating, but because they aren’t. Perhaps people either don’t want to be in a relationship or have difficulty finding one that lasts.

As the Wall Street Journal reported, Last year Facebook created its own top 50 list of cities for singles based on its enormous real-time data set. The social media behemoth tracked how many users changed their relationship status from “single” to “in a relationship” in October 2013.

The results were strikingly different from those of NerdWallet and Pew. Big cities like San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and New York may have some of the highest percentages of singles, but they also have the lowest rates of coupling up.

Remember those Silicon Valley tech bros Pew says are the No. 1 group of employed bachelors for single women? Maybe not so much. According to Facebook, San Jose is the second worst place to be if you’re looking for a lasting bond. Singles tend to stay single here.

It’s in cities like Colorado Springs, El Paso, and Louisville where relationships are far likelier to form, Facebook says. The right mix of demographics, city size, and cultural factors—such as traditional mindsets—likely lead people to pair up at higher rates.

Illustrations by Brian Hurst

Articles
Center for American Progress Action Fund

Tonight's Democratic debate is a must-watch for followers of the 2020 election. And it's a nice distraction from the impeachment inquiry currently enveloping all of the political oxygen in America right now.

For most people, the main draw will be newly anointed frontrunner Pete Buttigieg, who has surprisingly surged to first place in Iowa and suddenly competing in New Hampshire. Will the other Democrats attack him? How will Elizabeth Warren react now that she's no longer sitting alone atop the primary field? After all, part of Buttigieg's rise has been his criticisms of Warren and her refusal to get into budgetary specifics over how she'd pay for her healthcare plan.

The good news is that Joe Biden apparently counts time travel amongst his other resume-building experience.

Keep Reading Show less
Official White House Photo by Sonya N. Hebert

This election cycle, six women threw their hat in the ring for president, but is their gender holding them back? Would Americans feel comfortable with a woman leading the free world? Based on the last election, the answer is a swift no. And a new study backs this up. The study found that only 49% of American men would feel very comfortable with a woman serving as the head of the government. By comparison, 59% of women said they would feel comfortable with a woman in charge.

The Reykjavik Index for Leadership, which measures attitude towards women leaders, evaluated the attitudes of those living in the G7 countries as well as Brazil, China, India, and Russia. 22,000 adults in those 11 countries were surveyed on their attitudes about female leadership in 22 different sectors, including government, fashion, technology, media, banking and finance, education, and childcare.

Only two countries, Canada and the U.K., had a majority of respondents say they would be more comfortable with a female head of state. Germany (which currently has a female Chancellor), Japan, and Russia were the countries least comfortable with a female head of state.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture
via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

If you are totally ready to move on from Donald Trump, you're not alone. According to a report last April from the Wason Center National Survey of 2020 Voters, "President Trump will be the least popular president to run for reelection in the history of polling."

Yes, you read that right, "history of polling."

Keep Reading Show less
Politics
via Around the NFL / Twitter

After three years on the sidelines, Colin Kapernick will be working out for multiple NFL teams on Saturday, November 16 at the Atlanta Falcons facility.

The former 49er quarterback who inflamed the culture wars by peacefully protesting against social injustice during the national anthem made the announcement on Twitter Tuesday.

Kaepernick is scheduled for a 15-minute on-field workout and an interview that will be recorded and sent to all 32 teams. The Miami Dolphins, Dallas Cowboys, and Detroit Lions are expected to have representatives in attendance.

RELATED: Joe Namath Says Colin Kaepernick And Eric Reid Should Be Playing In The NFL

"We like our quarterback situation right now," Miami head coach, Brian Flores said. "We're going to do our due diligence."

NFL Insider Steve Wyche believes that the workout is the NFL's response to multiple teams inquiring about the 32-year-old quarterback. A league-wide workout would help to mitigate any potential political backlash that any one team may face for making an overture to the controversial figure.

Kapernick is an unrestricted free agent (UFA) so any team could have reached out to him. But it's believed that the interested teams are considering him for next season.

RELATED: Video of an Oakland train employee saving a man's life is so insane, it looks like CGI

Earlier this year, Kaepernick and Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid reached a financial settlement with the league in a joint collusion complaint. The players alleged that the league conspired to keep them out after they began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016.

Before the 2019 season, Kaepernick posted a video of himself working out on twitter to show he was in great physical condition and ready to play.

Kaepnick took the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2012 and the NFC Championship game in 2013.

He has the 23rd-highest career passer rating in NFL history, the second-best interception rate, and the ninth-most rushing yards per game of any quarterback ever. In 2016, his career to a sharp dive and he won only of 11 games as a starter.

Culture