Bestselling Author Calls Rise of Singles a BDD – Big Demographic Deal

Huge implications of a growing singles demographic

Posted Nov 06, 2010

When the Census Bureau released the latest figures showing, once again, an increase in the number of people who are single, much of the media became preoccupied with the question that seemed to stump them: Why is this happening? (I made fun of them for not even considering the one answer that is probably obvious to lots of people who read this blog.)

Thanks to a friend from Down Under, I just learned that an influential author wrote about the rise of singles from a different perspective. Calling the trend a BDD - Big Demographic Deal - Daniel Pink pondered the implications, which he described as "potentially huge." He spelled out some of the ways that the growing number of single people might matter in economics, culture, politics, and business.

Under economic implications, for instance, Pink asked whether women are approaching economic parity with men, and wondered what that might mean "for everything from wage inequality to the work-family practices of companies?" Under business implications, he suggested some ways in which businesses might start tuning into the singles demographic. For example, "What about a group buying service to give singletons some collective leverage in the marketplace? Or a real estate brokerage devoted exclusively to helping single women with enough money to buy homes?"

We've already discussed all of these domains (economics, culture, politics, business) and more here at Living Single (for example, here and here). What's important is that a high-profile writer whose primary areas of expertise have little to do with singles has recognized the significance of the demographic ascendance of people who are single. Plus, he did it in a way that was not cutesy or condescending. (In case you are not quite as preoccupied as I am with the world of books, Daniel Pink is a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. His recent book is Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us. One of his previous big successes was Free Agent Nation: The Future of Working for Yourself.)

Pink's post is an example of one of the ways in which social change can happen. The people who are saying - hey, pay attention, this is BIG! - are not just the members of the most relevant groups (in this case, scholars, advocates, writers, and practitioners of single life) but include high-profile others as well.