A project of

There have never been more
unmarried women in America.

About 57 million women in the United States are unmarried — widowed, divorced, separated, or single. That’s one out of every two U.S. women. Their numbers are growing, along with their power to influence elections and set policy priorities. We created the VPC Data Center to house and highlight information and analysis from multiple sources on this fast-growing, increasingly influential population. This library is intended to be an easily-accessible, often-updated resource.

Comparing the Voting Electorate in 2012-2016 and Predicting 2018 Drop-Off

As part of our ongoing efforts to understand the voting patterns of the Rising American Electorate, we’ve worked with Lake Research Partners to produce this report, which catalogues the changes in voting turnout for the Rising American Electorate between 2012 and 2016 – and makes projections for voter drop-off in 2018.

The projections are sobering and troubling to everyone who cares about increasing participation in our great democracy. Our prediction is that 40 million Americans who voted in 2016 won’t cast a ballot in the 2018 midterms — and to make matters worse, 2/3 of those drop-off voters will be members of the Rising American Electorate. The RAE dropoff is projected to be particularly pronounced in key 2018 battleground states, such as Arizona, Nevada, Florida, and Ohio:

Add in the effects of ongoing vote suppression efforts and the implication is clear: Democracy is facing a headwind in 2018. We need to double down on voter registration, mobilization and turnout efforts, and fighting for voting rights in order to make sure that every American has the opportunity to raise their voice at the ballot box.

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Presentation compiling the results of a report from VPC and Lake Research Partners on voter demographics in the 2012, 2016, and projected drop-off for the 2018 elections.
May 31, 2017
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Unmarried Women in America, 2017

The following excerpt is from Voter Participation Center’s extensive new report, Unmarried Women in America, 2017

In the United States today, more than one out of every two women is unmarried – divorced, separated, widowed, or never been married. Single women are one of the fastest-growing demographic groups in America. Between 2004 and 2016, the percentage of unmarried women in the population grew by two percentage points, and the percentage of married women dropped by two points:

Unmarried women are living very different lives than married women in the United States; unmarried women make less money, are more likely to live in poverty, to be unemployed, and to have no health insurance, savings, or retirement income. This “Marriage Gap” is not just economic, but political. Marital status has been proven to determine voting participation and preferences.

But instead of recognizing this fundamental change in the lives of the majority of American women and adopting policies that address the economic and diverse realities of single women’s lives, the Trump administration and their Republican allies in Congress are now poised to enact health care, budget, and tax plans that will hurt all women, but unmarried women disproportionately.

To have their voices heard, affect policy changes, and exact a political price, they must vote at levels that reflect their strength in the population. In 2016, even though single women had the numerical edge in terms of eligible voters, they were not registered and did not vote at the levels of married women, who are less progressive in their views.

Right now, close to one third of eligible unmarried women aren’t registered to vote, and more than one in ten of the single women who were registered in 2016 didn’t vote.

Clearly, single women have more power to shape the policy and political debate than they are using. Read the full report: Unmarried Women in America, 2017

Unmarried Women: Registration and Voting (2016)

Hover your mouse over a state to see the percentage of voting-eligible unmarried women in that state who voted or were registered to vote in 2016.

Unmarried Women Voting - 2016 Election
Percentage of Unmarried Women who Voted in 2016
< 50%
50-55%
55-60%
60-65%
65-70%
70%+

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PDF: Unmarried Women in America, 2017

Equal Pay Day 2017: Unmarried Women and the #WageGap

April 4, 2017 is Equal Pay Day 2017 — the date that symbolizes how far into 2017 the average woman has to work in order to make the same amount as the average man. According to 2016 US Census data, the wage gap for 2016 was the same as in 2015: for every $1 the average man is paid, the average woman is paid only $0.80.

Unmarried women are hit particularly hard by the wage gap. For every $1 the average man earns, the average unmarried woman is paid only $0.71… and for every $1 the average married man is paid, the average unmarried woman is paid only $0.59. That means that the average unmarried woman has to work until May 31, 2017 just to make the same as the average man did in 2016, and until September 12, 2017 to make the same as the average married man did in 2016.

And it’s even worse for unmarried women of color: For every $1 the average married man is paid, the average unmarried African-American woman is paid only $0.57, the average unmarried Native American woman only $0.50, and the average unmarried Hispanic woman only $0.48. That means that in order to make as much as the average married man made in 2016, the average unmarried Hispanic woman will have to work until January 26, 2018.

#EqualPayDay: The wage gap for unmarried women

Here’s a state-by-state breakdown of the wage gap for unmarried women. What is the wage gap for your state?

The Wage Gap for Unmarried Women (2016)

Hover your mouse over a state to see that state’s wage gap for all women, married women, and unmarried women.

Pay Gap by State (2017)

Pay Gap for Unmarried Women (compared to men)
40%+
35-40%
30-35%
25-30%
20-25%
< 20%

For more details, read the full report from Lake Research Partners and the Voter Participation Center about Equal Pay Day for unmarried women.

Share this post widely on social media to raise awareness of the wage gap and the importance of #EqualPay.

March 16, 2017
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Trump Budget Cuts Will Cause Widespread Pain

The proposed Trump budget released on March 16 increases spending on defense and homeland security by making big cuts to domestic spending that will disproportionately affect women and the poor — including slashing the budgets for the WIC nutrition assistance program, job training programs for disadvantaged youth and seniors, important medical research at the National Institutes of Health, afterschool programs and aid to low-income and minority college students, and neighborhood investments for low-income communities.

Overall, the trend in Trump’s budget is clear, just like it is in the health care proposal being put forth by Trump and the Republicans: Tax cuts for the wealthy and increases in military spending, “paid for” by cuts to government programs that historically help working- and middle-class Americans — especially unmarried women, people of color, and young people.

March 20 Update: We’ve added a more thorough analysis of the FY2018 cuts to the Department of Education and the Department of Labor, and how these cuts would hurt unmarried women, people of color, and young people in particular.

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The Trump budget increases spending on defense and homeland security by making big cuts to domestic spending priorities — cuts that will primarily hurt working- and middle-class Americans, especially unmarried women, people of color, and young people.
More details on Trump's FY2018 budget cuts to the Department of Education and Department of Labor, which would disproportionately affect unmarried women, people of color, and millennials.
March 14, 2017
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VPC Summary of CBO Report on the American Health Care Act

Despite assurances from the Trump Administration that under the American Health Care Act (the GOP’s replacement for the Affordable Care Act), “we’ll have more individuals covered” and “nobody will be worse off financially,” the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has just released an analysis of that legislation contradicting both claims.

Specifically, CBO’s estimate is that if the AHCA passes, 14 million Americans will lose health insurance in 2018, increasing to 24 million by 2026. Out-of-pocket premium costs, deductibles, and cost-sharing costs will go up for most lower- and middle-income consumers using the exchanges — which will have a disproportionate negative effect on unmarried women, people of color, and young people who have all benefitted from the Affordable Care Act.

Read our complete summary of the CBO analysis below.

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Read our takeaways from the CBO's analysis of the GOP's American Health Care Act, which could take away health insurance from as many as 24 million Americans by 2026.
March 8, 2017
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VPC Analysis: The American Health Care Act

Since the Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”) was enacted in 2010, it has helped millions of Americans gain access to health insurance — and especially benefitted unmarried women, people of color, and millennials. Between 2013 (the beginning of open enrollment) and 2016, the uninsured rate among African-Americans dropped by 9.8 percentage points, adults 19-25 by 11.9 percentage points, and Hispanics by a staggering 15.9 percentage points.

All the while, Republicans have been pledging to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act at their first opportunity — and on Monday, March 6, Republicans in Congress introduced their replacement plan, which they’re calling the American Health Care Act.

Our researchers have analyzed the AHCA and found that it jeopardizes all of the gains realized in the Affordable Care Act:

  • Millions of Americans are likely to lose insurance coverage as the ACA’s Medicaid expansion ends in 2020.
  • Health-care costs will rise significantly, especially for those with low incomes, because the Republican plan cuts health insurance subsidies and eliminates cost-sharing subsidies that help low-income Americans afford health insurance and health care.
  • The AHCA offers $600 billion in tax cuts to the wealthy, insurance companies, and pharmaceutical manufacturers.
  • The AHCA could potentially unravel the individual insurance market by producing a spiral of increasing costs, reducing coverage and raising deductibles.

Read our one-page analysis summary below.

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Read about how Congressional Republicans' proposed replacement for the Affordable Care Act would jeopardize all of the gains we've made in health care since 2010.
January 13, 2017
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The 2017 Agenda: The Affordable Care Act and the New American Majority

The incoming president and the majority party in Congress have made it a priority to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. “Obamacare”).

As part of our overall goal to collect and highlight data that reveals the economic and political conditions of unmarried women and the New American Majority (which also includes people of color and millennials), we’ve analyzed how repealing the Affordable Care Act would affect these crucial populations, and collected polling data on what Americans think about the ACA. We’ve also done some preliminary analysis of some of the Republican “replacement” plans, and put together a list of policy considerations for unmarried women in particular in any discussion of repealing and replacing the ACA.

Here are some of the things we found:

  • The Affordable Care Act is helping Americans. It has helped cut the uninsured rate for adults ages 18-64 by 43%, a change that has particularly helped unmarried women. In 2013, 10.1 unmarried women 18-64 were uninsured; by 2015, that number had fallen to 6.8 million.
  • According to a November 2016 poll from Kaiser Health Tracking, most of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act are extremely popular—including allowing young adults to remain on their parents’ plan until age 26 (85% in favor), eliminating many out-of-pocket expenses for preventative services (83%), providing subsidies to low- and moderate-income Americans to help them get insurance coverage (80%), and prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage due to preexisting conditions (69%). Additionally, a January 2017 poll from Quinnipiac (conducted after this report was completed) indicates that only 18% of Americans want to repeal the ACA.
  • According to analysts, the “replacement” plans being proposed would cost more money, cover fewer Americans, or both — and, of course, repealing the ACA without replacing it would take away health coverage from tens of millions of Americans, with a particularly heavy impact on the New American Majority.

Read the full reports here:

2017 ACA Agenda for Unmarried Women: Summary

A brief overview of the findings of our full report on the possible impacts of repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act for unmarried women and the New American Majority.

2017 ACA Agenda for Unmarried Women

Analysis of how the Affordable Care Act has helped unmarried women and the New American Majority—and the possible impacts of repealing and replacing the ACA.

We also think this is a good opportunity to highlight some of the data we put together last year about the economic status of unmarried women and the New American Majority in each state—including statistics on access to health insurance. Find your state’s statistical profile below:

Statistical profiles not available for Delaware, Idaho, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, or West Virginia.

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