Feel like the sole single? Well, you’re not alone: half of women have never got married

Nearly half of women have never married, according to figures that also show almost twice as many people live alone than in 1971

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The Independent Online

Nearly half of women have never married; a figure which has more than doubled in the last four decades, a major survey on British Society has shown. Figures released yesterday show that there are almost twice as many people living alone and eating a dinner for one every evening as there were in 1971.

The Office for National Statistics figures provide a picture of a Britain more at-ease with the single life than in the past as they show that 43 per cent of women between the ages of 18 and 49 have not wed, compared to only 18 per cent 34 years ago. And people aged 25-44 were found to be five times more likely to be living alone in 2011 than they were in 1973.

The 2011 General Lifestyle Survey Overview report also details the decline of marriage even within couples with the proportion of adult women cohabiting tripling from 11 per cent in 1979 to 34 per cent in 2011. The ONS said the bulk of the increase occurred between 1979 and 2001 and has changed little since then.

And the number of households the ONS found to be headed by a married or cohabiting couple fell from 92 per cent to 78 per cent. The family charity Gingerbread said single parent families have become a “normal part of our family life”.

Chief executive Fiona Weir said: “Despite the significant part they play in our society, single parents are still disadvantaged by stigma and by poverty. The government should applaud the fantastic job that single parents do, and do all it can to ensure that single parents have access to childcare and financial support that makes work a route out of poverty.”

Over four decades, about 372,000 households have been involved in the ONS survey, with approximately 970,000 people interviewed to keep tabs on changes in the demographic, social and economic characteristics of households, families and people in Britain.