The number of singles will increase from 2.4 million in 2003 to 3.4 million in 2030. The main causes for the increase are the breaking up of relationships and the aging of the population.
Middle aged and older
The increase in the number of singles will occur among middle-aged and older people. The number of singles aged between 30 and 64 will increase from 1.2 million in 2003 to 1.5 million in 2030. In these age groups the major reason for being single is ending the relationship.
In the future an increasing number of people will live together without getting married. Unmarried couples split up faster than married couples. After breaking up the ex-partners will live alone, either temporarily or permanently.
In these age groups it is the men who usually end up living alone. After the break-up women usually live with the children.
Singles by sex, 2003 and 2030
The number of singles over 65 will increase fastest, from 0.7 million in 2003 to 1.3 million in 2030. These are mostly widowed men and women.
Another reason for the increasing number of older singles is that older people will continue to live on their own longer. Older people are not likely to move to old-age homes quite as often in future.
In these age groups the percentage of single women exceeds the percentage of single men. Men usually die earlier than women. Married women are often a few years younger than their partners. Moreover women live longer. Life expectancy at birth is currently 76 years for men and 81 years for women.
More single older men to come
The percentage of single older men is expected to grow because life expectancy will increase more for men than for women. This increases the chances that men will outlive their female spouse. This development also implies that women will be widowed at an increasingly advanced age in the future. This will lower the percentage of single people in the lower age brackets over 65.
In the near future, the number of young singles is not expected to rise. When young people leave their parents’ home, four in ten start living on their own. Statistics Netherlands expects this trend to continue. This means that the number of young singles, aged between 15 and 30, living alone will remain about 0.5 million.
Andries de Jong