Watch just about any romantic comedy or talk to your haughtiest married friends and you'll see that single life is wrapped in stigma. As the stereotype goes, single people would be much better off if only they got married.
As New York University sociologist Eric Klinenberg writes in his book, "Going Solo," when discussed publicly, the rise of living alone is often presented as an unmitigated social problem and a sign of diminished public life.
But not everybody thinks this way.
In the US, people are getting hitched less often than they once did, and young Americans are putting off marriage more than ever before.
In 1962, half of 21-year-olds and 90% of 30-year-olds had been married at least once. In 2014, only 8% of 21-year-olds and 55% of 30-year-olds had been married.
According to Bloomberg, single Americans are now the majority.
"For decades social scientists have been worrying that our social connections are fraying, that we've become a society of lonely narcissists," Klinenberg tells The New York Times. "I'm not convinced."
And neither are a number of researchers. These studies begin to unpack the question of how being single affects your success:
Single people are more social.
A recent study on marital satisfaction released by the National Bureau of Economic Research and previously reported on by Business Insider suggests that the happiest people are those who are married to their best friends.
The authors concluded that partners can provide each other with a unique kind of social support and help each other overcome some of life's biggest challenges, and people with the most difficult lives — for example, middle-aged people, who often experience a dip in personal well-being — can benefit the most.
However, there are other kinds of social support that single are more likely to have the edge on.
Research suggests that, compared to married people, Americans who have always been single are more likely to support and stay in touch with their family and are more likely to help, encourage, and socialize with friends and neighbors.
Klinenberg explains that, despite extraordinary external pressure that can lead to self-doubt, being single doesn't condemn someone to a life of feeling lonely or isolated.
"On the contrary, the evidence suggests that people who live alone compensate by becoming more socially active than those who live with others, and that cities with high numbers of singletons enjoy a thriving public culture," he writes.
Single people have more individual freedom.
Klinenberg also believes that, in the age of expanding digital media and growing connectedness, being single offers a clear advantage: more restorative solitude.
More alone time helps people discover who they are and what gives their life meaning and purpose, he explains.
"Living alone helps us pursue sacred modern values — individual freedom, personal control, and self-realization — whose significance endures from adolescence to our final days," Klinenberg writes.
Single people pay some monetary penalties.
According to two Atlantic writers who crunched some numbers, single women can pay as much as $1 million more than their married counterparts over a lifetime.
The writers looked at the tax penalties and bonuses, as well as living expenses like health spending and housing costs.
According to the US Department of the Treasury Office of Tax Analysis, more married couples under the age of 65 on average see bonuses than not for filing joint tax returns, something single people can't do.
According to the BLS data the Atlantic writers looked at, single women spent 7.9% of their annual income on their health, compared to couples who spent on average 6.9%.
And when it came to housing, single people tended to pay more: While married couples spent on average 23.9% of their annual income on housing, single men spent 30.3% and single women spent 39.8%.
By combining resources and splitting costs, married people have the edge on all kinds of day-to-day expenses in addition to rent or mortgage: One cable bill, one utilities bill, and shared groceries can all lead to big savings.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider