(Netscape) You don't have to be married to be happy. With more people than ever choosing to remain single and never marry, academic researchers have determined what millions already know: It's OK to be single. Many studies over the decades have shown numerous reasons why marriage is good for us. It not only makes us happier, but also healthier and richer. It's even been shown to help us live longer. But now there may be a marriage backlash. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that the number of Americans 18 and older who have never married reached 55 million in 2006, up from about 45 million 10 years earlier. "We have spent the last decade talking about how great marriage is, but there are also costs," sociologist Naomi Gerstel of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, told USA Today. Here are four great reasons to stay single have emerged from several different studies, reports USA Today:
1. Marriage reduces social ties.
Singles are not only much more connected to their family and friends, but also they are more likely to help their parents in their old age than their married siblings, according to an unpublished study by researchers at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and Boston College.
2. Singles are just as happy.
When a couple marries, there is a measurable boost in their happiness, but it doesn't last. Over time, their happiness returns to pre-marriage levels, according to a study by Michigan State University of 70,000 households in Great Britain and Germany. Singles who never married reported the highest level of well-being.
3. No significant economic benefit.
Across all social classes, women are less likely than in the past to see marriage as an economic benefit, according to New York University researchers. The result is that women are raising their standards and giving a whole new meaning to the word "picky."
4. Pressure to marry doesn't hurt self-esteem.
When family and friends pressure women to marry, it does not hurt their self-image now as it once did in the past, according to a study from Penn State University and Duke University.