Defending math for more married men
In a recent post, gortexgrrl wrote:
As much as we were due for a break-down of Barna's 11-13 million man shortfall stat in terms of never married, married, divorced, widowed BELIEVERS (not nec. "AT CHURCH"), you can't just splice together two sets of data, willy-nilly, this set from Barna, that set from census, etc. Statistics just don't work that way.
Since I helped Candice process these numbers, I wanted to respond. The first thing I should point out is that it's perfectly fine to apply percentage estimates to Census Bureau population numbers--it happens all the time as polling groups survey small samples and then project their proportions onto the general population. It's exactly what Barna did. Notice the footnote to Barna's study making the claim that there were 11 to 13 million more single women than men:
The research is based upon six telephone surveys among 4,755 adults over the age of 18 who reside in the 48 continental states - 2,439 of the interviews were with women and 2,316 were among men. The estimated sampling error for the survey is +2 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.How in the world did Barna determine there was a gap of 11 to 13 million if he only surveyed 4,755 adults? He obviously applied his percentages to the population estimates made available by the Census Bureau.
Because the Census Bureau clearly shows that never married men outnumber never married women in every age category except those over 75, the gap that Barna points out is clearly among widowed and divorced women--supported by the Census Bureau. Barna affirms this point in another article drawing from his singles research in which he says, "Whereas men slightly outnumber women among those who have never been married and divorced women slightly outnumber divorced men, widowed women dwarf widowed men by a 4.3-to-1 ratio."
The bottom line is that anyone who wants to use Barna's research to accurately characterize the reality of how never married men compare to never married women should refer to the quote above instead of trying to guess which women he's referring to when he says that Christian women in general outnumber Christian men in general.
While eHarmony registration and Christian colleges may skew female, their numbers say more about who is seeking out online matching and higher education than it does about the actual breakdown of never married Christian men and women. Courtney Camerin's global perspective, unfortunately, is only anecdotal. At the end of the day, gortexgrrl is right that there still are many churches and other Christian settings where never married women outnumber never married men on a regular basis. However, there is no way you can legitimately interpret Barna's research, or anyone else's, to show that there are more never married Christian women in American than there are never married Christian men.