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Last Updated: Friday, 27 February, 2004, 17:22 GMT
Single women outnumbered by men
Bridget Jones
Supply and demand: the news will be welcomed by "Bridget Joneses"
Single men outnumber single women in England and Wales by 1m, according to the latest marriage statistics.

With 7m men and 6m women who have never wed, the rise in the number of people who give their marital status as single has accelerated in recent years.

The figures compiled by the National Office of Statistics in mid-2002 also showed a 2% increase in marriages and a slowdown in the divorce rate.

But it could not halt a decline overall in the proportion of married people.

Surveys taken at that time estimated almost a third of the over-16s in England and Wales were single, more than half are married, 8.2% are widowed and 8.4% divorced.

The single population had increased by 0.6% - or 351,500 people - since mid-2001.

Whole population: 52.5m
Men over 16: 20.3m
Women over 16: 21.7m
Married people: 22.1m
Divorced people: 3.5m
Widowed people: 3.4m
Single people: 13m
Single men: 7m
Single women: 6m
NoS, England and Wales 2002

Analysts said this continued a trend that had been seen for the last decade.

The 'single' figure includes all those classified as unmarried, who may be in relationships or co-habiting, said the Office for National Statistics (ONS), but not those who categorise themselves as widowed or divorced.

And NoS said there are stark differences between men and women.

Weddings on the up

Nearly 35% of men over 16 give their marital status as single, while only 27.4% of female adults come into this category.

Marcus Trescothick and Hayley Rowse
Cricketer Marcus Trescothick joined the married population in 2004

However, a larger proportion of men are married than women.

A spokesman for ONS said this was partly due to the disproportionately large number of widowed women.

While England and Wales has 2.7m widowed women, only 731,000 men are widowers.

The statistics also estimated around 9.3% of women were divorced compared with 7.4% of men.

There had been a 0.1% increase in the number of divorces since the previous year.

Earlier this month NoS said weddings across the UK were on the increase, despite a long term decline since the 1970s.

More than a quarter of a million couples wed in 2002, a year after the number of weddings fell to its lowest since 1897.

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