Hexbyte Glen Cove The single population is growing, and it’s time to grow with it

Hexbyte Glen Cove

Peter McGraw, professor of marketing and psychology at the Leeds School of Business. Credit: University of Colorado at Boulder

Recent Pew Research Center data shows that nearly half of U.S. adults are unmarried––and half of that population is not interested in dating. Yet, being in a relationship and, ultimately, a marriage continues to be a societal expectation.

The Pew report sheds light on a shifting narrative, said Peter McGraw, a professor of marketing and psychology at the Leeds School of Business. Culture in America is changing, and the data shows people are less dependent upon partnerships than ever before.

Still, there remains a based on relationship status.

“My research reveals that a hierarchy based on relationship status can be damaging for people whom partnering isn’t the right fit,” said McGraw. “Life shouldn’t be seen as better because you partner up, it should just be seen as different.”

McGraw, who is widely known for his research on humor, is one of the first researchers to scientifically examine solos. A bachelor himself, he’s also become an advocate for living single and living remarkably.

“There are 128 million unmarried American adults, and 25% of millennials are projected to never marry,” McGraw said. “It’s time for a new playbook.”

Why we’re seeing more singles

The single adult boom isn’t because people are just anti-marriage, McGraw said. Economic data shows improvements in well-being, such as access to education, increased economic opportunity and a social safety net, are providing more opportunity for Americans to diverge from tradition.

The trend is seen even in those who do ultimately choose marriage: U.S. Census Bureau data shows the average age for first marriage in 2020 was 30 for men and 28 for women, up markedly from 2000 when men typically married at 27 and women at 25. The average age of first marriage has been steadily increasing for both genders since 1970.

“What this suggests is people are able to act more on their own desires, wants, needs and goals,” McGraw said. “Some people see the decline of marriage to be associated with the decline of society, but I see the opposite.”

Yet challenges of living solo still persist, particularly for the already-marginalized Black and LGBTQ+ communities, who make up a disproportionate share of the single population in the U.S.

One of the largest challenges is access to housing. A 2021 report by the National Association of Realtors estimates the U.S. is 5.5 million housing units short of what’s needed to house the population. Housing prices have also increased exponentially, especially since the start of the pandemic––the Federal Housing Finance Agency reports home prices increased 17.4% between the second quarter 2020 and second quarter 2021.

The increase in home price coupled with the lack of inventory doesn’t bode well for single people, McGraw said.

“Half of the adult U.S. population is single, living on one income, yet buying a house today is really designed for a two-income family,” McGraw said. “Residential zoning still prioritizes , which are quite expensive, as opposed to housing geared toward singles––like condos and shared living spaces that lower cost and create a sense of community.”

Singles are also more focused on pets as partners or being able to travel frequently––both of which challenge the architecture of a traditional work environment, McGraw said.

A Single Insight

Focus on partnerships is a fabric of our being, woven into the corners of daily life we don’t even recognize: the two front seats in a car, family discounts at the gym, meal kits designed for couples and families, tables at restaurants almost always arranged to seat at least two people.

It’s these characteristics of society that contribute to how we look at , McGraw said. He argues businesses can help break down these barriers by focusing more attention on the single population.

“A lot of businesses are competing over the same types of people because they have the wrong assumptions about what these people need,” McGraw said. “They’re trying to find markets that are underserved but are overlooking the 128 people that make up the single market.”

McGraw has launched a new project called A Single Insight aimed at helping businesses recognize solos in the marketplace and adjust their tactics to better serve this population.

“Serving solos requires different perspectives,” McGraw said. “Solos have more discretion over how and what they spend their money on. They’re more mobile in how they live and work and what they do for fun.”



Citation:
The single population is growing, and it’s time to grow with it (2021, November 12)
retrieved 12 November 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-11-population.html

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Hexbyte Glen Cove How 'Iron Man' bacteria could help protect the environment thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove How ‘Iron Man’ bacteria could help protect the environment

Hexbyte Glen Cove

This Geobacter cell—which looks a bit like a gray peanut in this microscope image—is speckled with a dark coating of cobalt minerals that would be toxic to many organisms. Credit: Hunter Dulay, MSU

When Michigan State University’s Gemma Reguera first proposed her new research project to the National Science Foundation, one grant reviewer responded that the idea was not “environmentally relevant.”

As other reviewers and the program manager didn’t share this sentiment, NSF funded the proposal. And, now, Reguera’s team has shown that are capable of an incredible feat that could help reclaim a valuable natural resource and soak up .

“The lesson is that we really need to think outside the box, especially in biology. We just know the tip of the iceberg. Microbes have been on earth for billions of years, and to think that they can’t do something precludes us from so many ideas and applications,” said Reguera, a professor in the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics.

Reguera’s team works with bacteria found in soil and sediment known as Geobacter. In its latest project, the team investigated what happened to the bacteria when they encounter cobalt.

Cobalt is a valuable but increasingly scarce metal used in batteries for electric vehicles and alloys for spacecraft. It’s also highly toxic to livings things, including humans and bacteria.

“It kills a lot of microbes,” Reguera said. “Cobalt penetrates their cells and wreaks havoc.”

But the team suspected Geobacter might be able to escape that fate. These microbes are a hardy bunch. They can block uranium contaminants from getting into groundwater, and they can power themselves by pulling energy from minerals containing iron oxide. “They respire rust,” Reguera said.

Scientists know little about how microbes interact with cobalt in the environment, but many researchers—including one grant reviewer—believed that the toxic metal would be too much for the microbes.

But Reguera’s team challenged that thinking and found Geobacter to be effective cobalt “miners,” extracting the metal from rust without letting it penetrate their cells and kill them. Rather, the bacteria essentially coat themselves with the metal.

“They form cobalt nanoparticles on their surface. They metallize themselves and it’s like a shield that protects them,” Reguera said. “It’s like Iron Man when he puts on the suit.”

The team published its discovery in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology, with the first appearing online in late November, 2020. The Spartan team included Kazem Kashefi, an assistant professor in the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, and graduate students Hunter Dulay and Marcela Tabares, who are “two amazing and relatively junior investigators,” Reguera said.

She sees this discovery as a proof-of-concept that opens the door to a number of exciting possibilities. For example, Geobacter could form the basis of new biotechnology built to reclaim and recycle cobalt from , reducing the nation’s dependence on foreign mines.

It also invites researchers to study Geobacter as a means to soak up other toxic metals that were previously believed to be death sentences for the bacteria. Reguera is particularly interested in seeing if Geobacter could help clean up cadmium, a that’s found in industrial pollution that disproportionately affects America’s most disadvantaged communities.

“This is a reminder to be creative and not limited in the possibilities. Research is the freedom to explore, to search and search and search,” Reguera said. “We have textbook opinions about what microbes can and should do, but life is so diverse and colorful. There are other processes out there waiting to be discovered.”



More information:
Hunter Dulay et al. Cobalt Resistance via Detoxification and Mineralization in the Iron-Reducing Bacterium Geobacter sulfurreducens, Frontiers in Microbiology (2020). DOI: 10.3389/fmicb.2020.600463

Citation:
How ‘Iron Man’ bacteria could help protect the environment (2021, January 8)
retrieved 11 January 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-01-iron-bacteria-environment.html

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