How Childless Americans Are Becoming The Nation’s Most Powerful Interest Group Without Even Meaning To


Now that the LGBT folks can get hitched, I think it’s nigh time we turned our attention towards the one historically marginalized subgroup in America that’s still getting screwed over left and right and openly discriminated against in the workplace – unmarried Americans without children.

I don’t think Americans without spouses and/or kids really grasp just how biased “the system” is against them. Just take into consideration all of the following:

  • If you have children, you – not just your kids – are often eligible for Medicaid services that those without children are legally forbidden from receiving … based simply on the fact that you’ve sired or birthed at least one other human being.

There are plenty more institutional examples of singles-discrimination where that came from. In my state, married couples are allowed to access each other’s state motor vehicle information – even without the other spouse’s approval – yet unmarried couples aren’t even allowed to pick up their significant others’ accident reports, even with the expressed written consent of their S.O.

It gets more aggravating on the granular level. If a couple has been married for one day, each person is legally allowed to co-sign on car purchases, authorize healthcare directives for each other and make medical decisions on behalf of their children. But a couple that’s been together, perhaps even cohabitating, for 10 or 20 years without being wed aren’t legally permitted to do any of the stuff the people who got married after two months of dating can.

And then, there’s this little kneeslapper; the fact that married couples can leave their Social Security money to their spouses in case of early death, but unmarried couples can’t. That means if a guy croaks at age 40, his widow is allowed to keep whatever S.S. income he WOULD’VE gotten, regardless if his spouse remarries. Meanwhile, if an unmarried couple has been together for 40 years and one of them dies, the survivor gets absolutely nothing.

All these signs point to rampant, systemic relationship-status prejudice throughout America, but let’s not discount the country’s equally discriminatory anti-childbearing policies, either. Imagine, if you will, the government granting all white people in the U.S. a generous $3,000 tax break each and every year simply for being white. Pretty outrageous, huh? Well, that same financial reward for simply existing is gifted to everybody in the country who makes less than $60,000 and has at least one child in their home. Federal labor law mandates that “Family Responsibilities Discrimination” policies must prevent employers from discriminating against workers with children – in the process, giving all sorts of special privileges and relaxed rules to employees with children that aren’t afforded to childless workers. And of course, we can’t forget the fact that single and unmarried employees report higher rates of office discrimination, harassment and exclusion than their peers – a phenomenon so entrenched in the modern work world that it even has an informal title, singlism.

The modern world is anchored around families. Families drive the housing industry (at $29.6 trillion a year, far and away the largest industry of any kind in the U.S., eclipsing the nation’s TOTAL annual gross domestic product by more than $10 trillion.) And the housing industry pretty much props up the banking industry, the loan industry, the credit industry and even the education industry – remember, the overall quality of public schools is directly connected to the revenue generated by local homeowners.

The greatest source of debt in the U.S. – currently tabbed at about $14 trillion in outstanding money – is easily mortgages. But what people often overlook is that the root cause of this potentially recession-causing financial black hole isn’t home ownership, but people choosing to start families. All of us sadsack, underemployed millennials that owe $40,000 in college loans aren’t a drop in a bucket compared to the millions of “well-off” Gen X and Baby Boomers who owe hundreds of thousands of dollars on homes they’ll likely never pay off with their own money. Now compound that with an extra $233,000 – the amount the U.S.D.A. estimates it costs to raise one child to the age of 18 – and it stands to reason that the average two-child household in the States winds up generating a lifetime, non-repaid civic debt of at least one million dollars.

If you’re wondering why the U.S. is in such massive debt and prone to yet another crippling recession at any moment, married people with children are the reason. They take out an astronomical amount of debt that compromises the security of both our financial institutions and our social entitlement programs, in the process consuming more tax dollars than they kick into the communal bucket (to the point 77 million families pay ZERO federal taxes whatsoever.)

But the tides, they are a’ turnin’. The number of single Americans has finally crossed the 50 percent plateau, meaning for the first time in U.S. history, married individuals are now the electoral minority. Furthermore, 48 percent of women in the U.S. as of 2014 have never had any children, a percentage share that – as evident by the 2016 U.S. fertility rate declining to its lowest level since 1909 – is almost certain to increase over the ensuing decades.

This is perhaps the greatest demographical shift in U.S. history. With more people foregoing marriage and children, the less public and private debt the country will owe. Instead of tax dollars going towards entitlement programs that will never generate a dime of revenue, they can start going towards profit-generating infrastructure and economy-building programs. Since single, unmarried people don’t need big houses, that means we can substantially reduce our collective carbon footprint and decrease our dependency on fossil fuels. And with fewer people dependent on company health care plans, employers might actually have enough fiscal wiggle room to employ more people, while the exorbitant costs of private market insurance would decrease.

The needs of the unmarried and childless are much different than the needs of the married and those with children. And with the former representing the new national majority, they could easily form the greatest, most powerful special interests group in this nation’s history.

Of course, it might be a while before somebody comes along and rallies the masses under the same identity politics umbrella, but when it does? By golly, some things are going to change, and they are going to change fast.

You think the National Rifle Association has some impressive legislative clout? They ain’t got nothing on the new N.R.A. – just wait until the Non-Reproductive Americans take charge. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

James Swift is an Atlanta-based writer and reporter.

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