A friend of mine believes that every revolution needs a slogan. So she recommends "I am single, hear me roar" to describe the economic changes that millions of unmarried Americans have caused in recent years. (See story at right.)
I like her phrasing, but I'm still quibbling over semantics. "Is this a revolution or an evolution?" I wonder. And if it's the former, who's leading the way?
The apartment complex I live in, for example, once housed mostly families and older couples. Now singles are the norm. The proximity to Boston probably helped fuel this transformation. But so did the property owners.
When I was looking at my place two years ago, the manager told me that he prefers to have only one person in each two-bedroom apartment. "It's so much easier that way," he said.
So can single power claim the credit for this shift? And is it mere coincidence that the rents go up as the proportion of unmarrieds rises?
In many places, the influence of singles has to do with how many of them there are. Big numbers equal more clout.
One trip to the local grocery store proves this point. In my city, salmon at the fish counter is $5.99 a pound. But precut, pre-wrapped half-pound pieces sell for $3.
A friend who lives in a town with few singles, however, pays $4.99 for a pound of salmon and $3.99 for a quarter-pound precut piece.
So, is this revolution or evolution?
I say the latter, because it's fueled as much by savvy businesspeople as by singles themselves. Revolution will happen only when people actively work to create larger, lasting changes.