New data from the Office of National Statistics has revealed that in 2011, more than 15.7 million adults (35% of those aged 16 and over) in England and Wales had never been married.
This represents a 5% rise in the proportion of unmarried adults: in 2001, 12.5 million (30%) adults have never been married.
The researchers identified Islington, in North London, as the location with the highest proportion of singletons. More than 60 per cent of Islington residents had never married.
As it turns out, the five local authorities in England and Wales with the highest proportions of residents who have never married are all in London:
- Islington (59.9%)
- Lambeth (58.4%)
- Hackney (57.5%)
- Hammersmith and Fulham (55.9%)
- Tower Hamlets (55.3%)
The five local authorities identified as having the lowest proportions of residents who have never married are as follows:
- East Dorset (21.0%)
- East Devon (23.7%)
- North Kesteven (23.7%)
- Christchurch South (24.0%)
- Northamptonshire (24.2%)
In 2011 there were also 23 million (51%) “not married” people, a rise from 19.4 million (47%) in 2001. This group included those who had never married or were divorced or widowed.
The researchers at the Office of National Statistics have attributed the rise in the single population to a number of possible factors. These include the proportional decline in marriage since the 1970s and the “increased social acceptability” of remaining single or cohabiting (either never marrying or not remarrying following divorce or widowhood).
They have also produced an interactive map, showing the proportion of those never married and those not married by area, age and sex:
Image credit: dbaron.