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March 31, 2008

Richard Florida

The Singles Map

« Who's Your Philly | Main | Who's Your Blogging Head ... »

                                          From the book, Who's Your City?

 
This is a new, updated and improved version the singles map (inspired by an earlier map in  National Geographic) published in Sunday's Boston Globe.

                                                           MORE COOL MAPS, here.

A Singles Map of the United States

Which cities have a surplus of single men (or women) - and what that means for the country

By Richard Florida

Which of these two decisions do you think has a bigger impact on someone's life: finding the right job, or finding the right significant other? No one's going to argue with the notion that where you live affects your employment prospects. But the place you call home has a lot to do with your chances of finding the right partner as well. Having an enticing "mating market" matters as much or more than a vibrant labor market.

It's not just that some places have more singles than others. If you're a single man or a single woman the odds of meeting that special someone vary dramatically across the country.

By far, the best places for single men are the large cities and metro areas of the East Coast and Midwest. The extreme is greater New York, where single women outnumber single men by more than 210,000. In the Philadelphia area and greater Washington, D.C., single women outnumber single men by 50,000. I met my wife outside Detroit, where the odds were greatly stacked in my favor - single women outnumber single men by some 20,000 there.

In fact, single women outnumber single men in many large cities around the world, even though men outearn women at all ages, according to Lena C. Edlund, a Columbia University economist. One reason young women in the prime marriage years - the 25-44 age range - flock to big cities is to compete for the most eligible men. And smart women who gravitate to vibrant cities are more likely to stay single - for longer, at least - because they rightly refuse to settle for someone who can't keep up with them intellectually or otherwise.

But women do have an advantage in the American West and Southwest. In greater Los Angeles, for example, there are 90,000 more single men than women. In Phoenix and the San Francisco Bay Area, single men outnumber single women by roughly 65,000. There are considerably more single men than women in San Diego, Dallas, and Seattle, too. Each of these regions has grown substantially over the past two or three decades, offering jobs in everything from high tech to construction and services. As numerous studies of migration show, men - especially those in regions with declining economies - are initially more likely to move long distances for economic opportunity, while women are more likely to stay closer to home and family.

Being in a place where the gender odds are stacked against you can be very frustrating. "When I was in Chicago, it was never long between dates" says one single male. "When I'm hanging out with friends [in the San Francisco Bay Area], often times in a large room with few if any women, we routinely turn to the topic of how the dating scene sucks."

Greater Boston is unusual among large metro areas. It is one of the very few with a near perfect balance of singles - having just 1,600 or so more women than men - 604,960 men to 606,580 women. And this may be part of the reason why the region ranks third for young singles on a ranking of more than 150 metro regions my team and I compiled. The entire region surrounding Boston and its immediate suburbs does well, too. Worcester; Portland, Maine; and Portsmouth-Manchester, N.H., also score among the top five for singles among small-medium-sized regions nationwide.

This high ranking is good news, because singles attract other singles. Numerous studies have found that young people pick where they want to live first and then search for a job in those places. When Forbes magazine asked young singles of both genders what matters most in the places they live, more said "number of other singles" than said "great career prospects"; things like "wild nightlife" and "low cost of living" came in much farther behind.

The ability to attract young singles also bodes well for regional economies. Singles are a large and growing segment of the population and the workforce. With many postponing marriage until their late 20s and 30s, and with a significant share of marriages ending in divorce, singles now make up more than half of all American households, compared with just 20 percent or so in the 1960s and 1970s.

In our highly mobile society - where 40 million Americans move every year and 15 million of us make significant moves to a new county, a different state, or a different country - younger singles are the most mobile group of all. People in their 20s are twice as likely to move as 30-to-34 and 3.5 times more likely than 45-54.

The end result of these millions upon millions of location decisions is likely to be a widening economic and cultural divide between the relatively small number of fortunate regions that attract singles who can choose where they want to live, and the larger number whose populations are older, less-skilled, more rooted, or even stuck.

Richard Florida is the author of the new book, "Who's Your City?," and director of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management. He can be reached at florida@creativeclass.com.

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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference The Singles Map:

» Hot Dating Cities from Political Animal
HOT DATING CITIES....This is a pretty interesting map. It shows which American cities have a surplus of single men (blue) and which ones have a surplus of single women (red). What's interesting is the distribution: virtually every city west of... [Read More]

» Useful graphic: disparity in the number of single men and women by city from Pure Pedantry
What an astonishingly useful graphic (click to enlarge):... [Read More]

» Where the Boys Are from UNCoRRELATED
This is kind of a startling map--all the men appear to be west of the Mississippi river, and all the women are east of it. The head count doesn't really tell the story though. Its not just how much of... [Read More]

» Where the Wild Things Are from In the Agora
Richard Florida, chronicler of the "creative class," posted an interesting map and article on his web site the other day. Florida's map tracks the disparity between the numbers of single men and single women between the ages of 20-64 in... [Read More]

» Where the Wild Things Are from In the Agora
Richard Florida, chronicler of the "creative class" and author of the new book Who's Your City?, posted an interesting map and article on his web site the other day. Florida's map tracks the disparity between the numbers of single men... [Read More]

» Hot Dating Cities from Political Animal
HOT DATING CITIES....This is a pretty interesting map. It shows which American cities have a surplus of single men (blue) and which ones have a surplus of single women (red). What's interesting is the distribution: virtually every city west of... [Read More]

Comments

Tom

I think this map would be more informative if it was based on percentages rather than raw numbers.

Jeff

This is opposite my own armchair, anecdote-based sociological theorizing. Forgive my being superficial and overly personal, but this map is almost the opposite I've experienced (save NYC and Atlanta) in terms of the numbers of attractive women. As an average-looking guy, the women I've ended up with while living in L.A. and Houston have been very cute to beautiful, whereas I had significantly less luck with average-looking women in Boston and Philadelphia. Same has been true from friends from college. I know I don't have honed judgment in this arena, but guys seem to be similar everywhere. I know I sound like an ass, but I'd hypothesized that women, especially attractive ones, seeking higher education and/or adventure nowadays in higher percentages whereas their male counterparts take the factory or construction jobs, are more likely to move from their hometowns, especially to areas with good climates. The prom queen gets on the bus to stardom and L.A., whereas the king takes a job at his dad's refinery.

This now seems completely wrong. But there's definitely something to the attractiveness of women thing beyond the social environment of certain cities pressuring women to be tanned, toned and bleached.

Michael R. Bernstein

I concur with Tom. The same goes for the Creative Class map: per-capita concentration of creatives seems (at least for smaller metros) much more important than absolute numbers.

Zoe B

But lots of 'prom queens' go to LA looking for stardom.

When I was 20 I wanted to live in the East, for cultural reasons. I would have liked to visit the West, but not to live there. Lovely scenery, but the art museums generally were too young to have gotten much of the good stuff. And the interesting cities were far apart. In Philly I could take commuter trains to visit New York for the day, at a reasonable cost. Go to the beach? Free trip! I could take a bus to Atlantic City, and there they would give you the cost of your round-trip ticket in quarters. The older eastern cities have decent public transit, and I didn't need to buy a car. Moreover, it was much cheaper to travel from the Midwest to the East, than to the West. I could afford to visit my folks.

So, why do the young men want to go west?

Michael Wells

Three questions.

Do the singles numbers include gay couples and/or living together straights? If so, then the stats and ratios could be not reflecting reality.

Second, do they include college students? If so the Boston region's quarter million college students may be a big reason for its balance.

Third, is it all ages and does it include widows? Not sure what the significance would be, other than in my experience men in the East and South tend to have less healthy lifestyle habits then the West and may die off earlier leaving single women??

Michael Wells

Oh I see it says ages 20-64 at the bottom.

What about immigrant Latino laborers -- documented and not, are they mostly male and could that effect the Southwest includingSoCal?

T-Rock

How do you know this has anything to do with dating habits of mobile upper middle class people? How much of the prevalence of single men in southwestern states, California, and Florida has to do with unmarried male immigrants working in construction? How much of the prevalance of women in cities with large African-American populations (Detroit, Chicago, DC, Philly, Baltimore, Atlanta, Memphis) has to do with the high rate of incarceration among African-American men? There are so many plausible explanations for these data that it's absurd to conclude it has something to do with dating prospects.

Ted B. (Charging Rhino)

I'm wondering how the realitive sizes of the local gay and lesbian single-populations skews the percentages? Certainly for the major "magnet gay ghetto" cities of NYC, Chicago, SF and LA the imbalances of single (straight) males should be even more pronounced. My suspicion is the for the lesbian population the actual affect of the marget-cities is less pronounced.

Certainly in the smaller satellite cities the reverse happens as the bulk of the original 5-8% of the male population who are gay have migrated-away. Where I live in New Jersey there are almost no single gay men as the magnetic-poles of NYC and Philadelphia attract-away the gay population. Versus in the straight-male population there isn't that social-pressure and geographic-sorting to relocate.

Jimppy

The common wisdom regarding San Francisco is that straight guys gave it pretty good, since a lot of the male population is gay. Does this control for sexual orientation? Also, how about immigration status, which I would imagine explains some of the male numbers in places like Southern California?

Moving

A friend of mine sent me this image a few days ago - I move to New York in a few weeks to start an amazing job. As a single female in my 20's, my friend is worried that I will never "find that special man."

I hope no one will ever base their decision on demographics - just go with your dreams.

Adam Becker Sr

Tell us where you got the data and what software you used to plot it.

Thanks
Adam

Robinia

Everyone is likely to look for their own reasons for this disparity... and some very good, plausible ones are brought up above. One that has not yet been mentioned is the difference in policy, state by state and region by region, in enforcement of child support court orders. It is very upbeat to think of all those young males moving west to respond to job opportunities, but, in my experience, single and divorced males often move west (I live in NY) at the point that they have decided to ditch responsibility for supporting the children they had with women they no longer like so much as they once did.

Chris Bartlett

"By far, the best places for single men are the large cities and metro areas of the East Coast and Midwest. "

This presumes that these men are gay or bisexual, or that they are even looking for a partner. Since your book focuses so much on the importance of gay communities for creative economies, it was surprising to find this heterosexist interpretation of the data.

Best regards, Chris Bartlett

Chris Bartlett

Sorry- the comment above should read gay or bisexual....


I shouldn't be writing comments before I have my coffee! LOL

Chris

Chris Bartlett

Now I see what is happening-- the blog software is deleting -not- because I put carats around it--- well-- I think you understand the point of the comment.

Best regards, Chris

williamP

I should chime in on the absolute vs. proportional numbers issue-

These numbers are almost useless. If I'm in a big city, even a small percentage difference between men & women means a large difference in absolute numbers. But it's the PERCENTAGE difference that counts -- that's what determines the experience of dating.

Please give us the proportional numbers so that this data is actually useful...

Wolf

I certainly wouldn't consider San Francisco men marriagable material.

Eleanor's Trousers

I second (third) all of those who questioned the GLBT populations of the larger cities. A single woman in a city with 80,000 more men than women doesn't gain much benefit in the relationship arena if 100,000 of them are gay. Then again, with NYC's gay population, the stats for women there may be even worse than they appear on the chart.

Brian

Everybody is single in Boston because everybody is too picky, and nobody wants to settle.

airish

These are just relatively gross census figures, it appears. Specifically, singles age 20-64. If you further filtered for appropriate demographics (age, education), it would be much more useful. For example, are single 62 year old widows or single 20 YO illegals working as day laborers relevant to your "dating pool"? A more useful measure would be singles, college education or higher, age 25-50 (or something like that).

Justin Buzzard

RF, thank you for your new book. I appreciate it. I just reviewed it on my blog.

Bilwick1

Interesting to see that Atlanta still has a surplus of unattached women. When I came to "Hotlanta" in the 1980s, I was no little excited by the prospect that there were reportedly nine single women for every single man. Quickly, I got the impression that either the figures were wrong or I was doing something wrong. I asked a woman I knew--engaged, fortysomething, educated, lower-middle-class--where the horde of single women I'd heard so much about was hiding itself. She said, "Oh, those are yuppie women out in suburban condos. They wouldn't be interested in you." Since then many of the yuppies and yuppesses have moved in-town to gentrify some of the neighborhoods, but my friends's observation--along with her later modification that many of the single women in Atlanta were divorced rednecks or unmarried ghetto mamas (her statement, not mine, folks)--makes me wonder if these figures alone neglect crucial considerations of class and race when it comes to dating and mating.

Wil

I am married so now retired from active hunting for women, but the truth is that the largest concentration of beautiful women in the USA is in Los Angeles. The map probably includes the millions of Mexican day labourers to boost the male numbers in California.... If you want to see a large percentage of blondes go to Seattle. ..... There are lots of men in San Francisco, (my capital) but most of them are gay.

d_in_washington

A sad fact about the biggest female-heavy cities: Many or even most of the missing men are behind bars.

You'll notice the largest red dots are for Washington D.C., Baltimore, Memphis and Atlanta. (I've excluded New York because it the somewhat vague "northern NJ.")

These four cities have majority-black populations.

In a nation where 1 in 9 black men are imprisoned (per a February Pew report), a sizable portion of the male stock is missing from these cities.

It's no surprise that places like Baltimore would register the loss most acutely.

Using the national 1:9 figure, a quick calculation shows that in a 600,000-person city like Baltimore, which is 65 percent black, you could expect to find 21,000 of its black men behind bars. That alone could explain Baltimore's lopsidedly female nature.

The math yields the same results for Atlanta and Memphis, where the map says women outnumber men by about 20,000.

Washington -- my home -- apparently has about 50,000 more men than women. It's unclear though what areas are included, as Mr. Florida references "greater Washington D.C."

In any case, the phenomenon doesn't necessarily imply a mating bonanza for men in these East Coast cities. If the above theory holds true, there are racial and economic differences in the singles scene that could pose barriers.

flip

I live in san diego ca (BIG BLUE DOTS).
I've gotta say that one reason why we've got such large amounts of "single men" in the large metro cities (LA San Fran & SD) is because of the very large homosexual populations. I don't think that the census data is omitting the people who can't "get married" that live here and have moved here from elsewhere (such as my next door neighbor) just to be around other gay men.
Secondly, a single person will find it very difficult to get a place to live out here with the highest housing rates in the nation. you'll need a geeky tech job to make enough to move out here by yourself. Unless you're already married and get transferred from somewhere else the dual income the ability to get a nice flat with 2 rooms and a parking space is doubtful.

The inland agricultural areas are heavily populated by single illegal immigrants that sendabout 14 billion/year of earnings down south via western union to their families.

Now I've met quite a few women from the east coast and I can tell you that the stats are misleading. Those women as pointed out above are more "single" as in looking for a male and more devoted to competing in the business world than to being as single woman ready for a real relationship.
They are harsher, colder, far more quick to judge and far more demanding than anyone looking to be in a relationship should be (not to lower standards) but to realize what is important in any marriage is who your partner really is vs their paycheck.
Their singularity is a Phenomenon that is culturally based imo.

Forget the great unwashed masses of lower income breeding projects in the south...

I'll stick to taking my chances here locating one of the few females that are available and up to "my standards".

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