· 48 per cent of adults in Britain are single
· Single people spend an extra £266,000 on living costs over their lifetime
· By 2010 more than 40 per cent of households will be occupied by singles
· 89 per cent of those interviewed said that traveling alone boosted their confidence
· 27 per cent of mortgages taken out last year were by single women living alone
Single living is the new way to find happiness
A story published today in The Times says we should forget Bridget Jones and her hapless search for a husband because, according to a new survey, real-life singletons are career-minded, successful, happy people, comfortable with their status.
Unlike the accident-prone Ms Jones, single people no longer feel socially odd and use their status to travel and try “new life experiences”.
The findings of the survey, which interviewed more than 1,000 single people aged mostly between 25 and 54, highlight the changes and adaptations people are making as the single population grows.
About 48 per cent of the adult population is now single, and by 2010 more than 40 per cent of households are expected to be occupied by single people.
The trend is not unique to Britain, with other Western economies experiencing similar demographic changes, including New York, where happy single people are known as “quirkylones”.
The survey, timed to coincide with National Singles Week, which begins on Monday in Britain (it's not until mid-September in the USA), found that 82 per cent of those questioned said that being single gave them “an opportunity to try new life experiences” and 89 per cent said that travelling alone “boosted their confidence” and allowed them to be more spontaneous and adventurous.
Single people questioned about their lifestyles said that a busy working life created opportunities for greater self-esteem and 83 per cent said that having a good career was more important for single people than those who were married or cohabiting.
Most of the 1,050 people surveyed, aged between 16 and 65, had been single for between one and five years and came from Britain and Ireland.
Denise Knowles, a relationship counsellor for Relate, said that the growing single population was caused by people marrying later and having families in their mid to late thirties.
She said: “The social stigma of being single has gone. Single people want to take time to explore the world and build their careers before settling down.”
The survey, commissioned by Solo’s Holidays, also found that being single meant that it was more difficult to find a suitable property and mortgage. And more than 93 per cent of those questioned felt that the Government could do more to recognise the importance of the growing single population and change tax policies that penalised them.
“There are disadvantages to being single. Apart from some financial ones, there are social ones as some couples think of single people as predatory and many older single people are lonely,” Ms Knowles said.
“But the Government has recognised them . . . More properties are being built for single people and you can buy single meals in supermarkets — something you could not do easily in the past.”
Richard Scase, 57, Professor of Management at Kent University, said: “This has been driven by the gender revolution as more and more women have got qualifications, started careers and delayed marriage. There are plenty of confident, self-assertive women living alone, as there are men. It’s not usually a permanent thing, but often a phase which people go in and out of.”
The organisers of National Singles Week, which is August 8-12, have put together a 20-page guide to single life, with career and other advice.