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Althouse: The likelihood that a single 40-year old woman will marry….


It’s not 5%, as Newsweek announced back in 1986. It’s 40%. Newsweek now admits it was wrong. The statistic, we’re told, was distorted by the failure to recognize that women would marry later in life than they had in years past.
The statistic itself became a vital part of pop culture:

In "Sleepless in Seattle," the character played by Meg Ryan informed a co-worker that the terrorist statistic was not true. The co-worker, played by Rosie O’Donnell, responded, "It’s not true, but it feels true."

(Fake but accurate!)
I wonder if the fake statistic itself changed behavior. If you think your chances are slim, you may accept a mate you would have rejected if you believed there would be more options down the road. A great deal of pressure was created, urging women not to "forget to have children." And yet it’s also likely that some women would give up and think: I’m 35 and not married, so I need to focus on trying to accomplish something that’s within reach.
I really do wonder how much pop culture, including pop statistics, changed us and how it changed us. How much more powerful than feminism was all that? … is all that?

Althouse: The likelihood that a single 40-year old woman will marry….


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