Your Hometown May Be the Reason You’re Single

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Lena Dunham's hometown is New York. Photo: Craig Blankenhorn/HBO

An unfortunate aspect of wedding season (which is fast approaching, so get those pastel dresses in the back of your closet to the dry cleaners!) is that, when you’re single, it can often feel like the season of: “So, when are YOU getting married, hmmm?"

Sure, it’s fun to drink while people read bad poems, eat mostly delicious free cake, and dance with old people to “Uptown Funk,” but when you're single at a wedding, enduring the quiet side-eye is enough to make even confident people wonder if maybe there is something wrong with them after all.

Good news! There is! But it's not your fault.

The New York Timesthe Upshot and Harvard economists found that your hometown and a number of its defining characteristics (including wealth and political ideology) could predict the likelihood of whether you marry by age 26.

The places that discourage marriage most tend to be cities, including San Francisco, Philadelphia and New Orleans, as well as their surrounding areas. Nationwide, the jurisdiction with the single largest marriage-discouraging effect is Washington. But the New York area stands out even more. If we boiled down the list to only the country’s 50 largest counties, the top five in discouraging marriage would all be in the New York area.

Places that encourage young people to get married include Salt Lake City and its surrounding areas, as well as wealthy, predominantly Republican small towns.

So the next time someone at a wedding asks you what your plans are, you can say, "Yeah, I'd be married but my parents aren't Mormon, Republican, or wealthy." Unless they are, in which case, just eat more free cake.