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)
Unmarried Women Voting - 2016 Election
54 years after the Equal Pay Act was signed into law, women are still fighting to earn the same earnings as men for equal work. According to the most recent data on 2016 available from the U.S. Census Bureau, women on average make 80 cents for every dollar a man makes.
Earning disparities are even greater for unmarried women, who have seen a steady three-year decline on their earnings in comparison to married men. Unmarried women now earn only 59 cents to every dollar a married man earns, part of an ever-consistent pattern of unmarried women being left behind, even in a growing and improving economy.
In short, there have been no real substantive gains for women. In fact, equal wages is seeing a backwards trend while married men continue to see their earning power grow. Read about the particular difficulties facing unmarried women of color and single mothers and the real, day-to-day consequences of the pay gap.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Our research team has compiled available data from the US Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and other sources to put together this statistical profile of the demographic and economic circumstances facing unmarried women in the state of South Dakota.
Our research team has compiled available data from the US Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and other sources to put together this statistical profile of the demographic and economic circumstances facing unmarried women in the state of New Jersey.
Our research team has compiled available data from the US Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and other sources to put together this statistical profile of the demographic and economic circumstances facing unmarried women in the state of New Mexico.
Our research team has compiled available data from the US Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and other sources to put together this statistical profile of the demographic and economic circumstances facing unmarried women in the state of Montana.