OH NO! Family values are dead!

For first time, unmarried households reign in US – Yahoo! News

Unmarried couples gravitated toward big cities such as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco, while the farm states in the Great Plains and rural communities of the Midwest and West remained bastions of traditionalism, according to the survey.

Interesting survey, maybe, except Yahoo doesn’t really provide any numbers.  Their main point is that in 2005, for the first time more than 50% of households were not a heterosexual married couple.  The gist of the story is, “OH NO!  The family is going out the window!  Soon the evil gays will run the world!”  You have to read between the lines a little bit, but that’s all there.

I don’t think this points to any sort of decline in family values.  In fact, maybe it points to a growing financial intelligence among young people.  Nothing in the article supports that, but it’s not my fault that Yahoo’s reporting is not very thorough.

What I’m talking about, though, is that they don’t take into account people cohabitating because it makes financial sense.  For example, about three years ago, I was living with two roomates.  We were renting a house because none of us could really afford a place on our own.  The two of them, encouraged by our landlord/realtor, decided to buy a house.  They were both tired of throwing money away in rent, but we live in Northern Virginia.  It’s really expensive to live here, and most single people in their mid-twenties have a little trouble buying.

So, they bought a house.  They signed some contract so they used both of their incomes as co-buyers.  I rented from them because I wasn’t ready for that kind of financial commitment.

Now, a few years later, I’ve moved out, bought my own place, and gotten married.  One of the roommates is currently renting with his fiancee, and the other just got married a few weeks ago, and he and his new wife are moving somewhere together.

My point here is that we were a household that didn’t involve a heterosexual married couple, but it wasn’t because we’re bad people or we hate family values or anything like that.  It was because we were unmarried and didn’t want to spend three quarters of our income on housing.

I have no idea if there’s anything in the survey to support an increase in situations like that.  But this shows the danger in showing partial statistics.  If you can pick and choose which numbers and which relationships to show, you can support just about any hypothesis you want.

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