More young people in the world are staying single. The singulate mean age at marriage (SMAM) indicates the average period of single life in years among those who marry before the age of 50. This data shows Indian have the lowest SMAM, or marry the earliest, compared with larger global economies. According to survey done by UNDP, ILO, World Bank, German men enjoy ten more years as unmarried singles than Indians. Japanese are putting off marriage the second longest.

In Singapore, singles now make up 70 percent of those in 25-29 age group, a sharp rise from 50 percent about 15 years ago, the latest General Household Survey shows. In 2000, bachelors formed 64.2 percent of their cohort, rising to 70.6 percent (2005), 74.6 percent (2010) and 80.2 percent (2015). The corresponding figures for women are 40.2 percent (2000), 46.3 percent (2005), 54 percent (2010) and 63 percent (2015).

Factors affecting late marriage

There is changing attitude towards daughters in the Indian society. The below chart shows the increasing willingness of parents to rely on daughters in old age and open to receiving financial support from daughter in old age. This is one of the factors women are marrying late. According to the India Human Development Survey-II, 2011-12, 44.75% of parents, were open to receiving financial support from their daughter in later years of their life, up from 32.8% in 2004-05, in urban areas. More number of parents were also willing to live with their daughters in their old age and showed a 10-percentage point increase between 2004-05 and 2011-12.

Changing traits of single millennials and how it is shaping the world economy

The must-haves for the previous generation aren’t as important for millennials. They are putting off major purchases – or avoiding them entirely. In a recent survey done by Goldman Sachs shows that millennials in the US have been reluctant to buy items such as cars and luxury goods. Instead, they are turning to a new set of services that provide access to products without the burden of ownership giving rise to what is being called a sharing economy. The below chart shows 30% don’t intend to buy a car in future, 25% say they might purchase one if they really need it, but indifferent otherwise and 25% say having a car is important, but it is not a big priority.  As for ownership of a house, 40% feel it’s extremely important to have a house, 30% say it’s important but is not a big priority, and 15% don’t intend to purchase in the near future. Overall 55% respondents do not put owning a house on their priority list. Looking at luxury bags, 30% say it's important but it’s not a big priority, 25% don’t intend to purchase in the near future, 25% don’t feel strongly about it. Coming on to TV, 30% say it’s important but it’s not a big priority, 20% don’t intend to purchase in the near future, 20% don’t feel strongly about it. Growing percentage of older millennials are choosing to rent and not buy giving rise to the renter generation. While 52% were renters in 2005, it rose to 60% in 2013. The study also finds out that the percentage of young people married and living on their own has dropped by more than 50% since the 1960’s. They are waiting longer to have children.

India has over 1 million monthly users across leading dating apps such as TrulyMadly, Woo and Tinder. 25-35% of dating app users fall under the marriageable age and are looking at marriage. With 25 million singles in India, the dating app industry is estimated to be worth $1.5 billion, according to BCCL.

With the growing number of single person households worldwide, developing products for singles can be a new business opportunity. Average monthly expenditure of a single person household has found to greater than a household of two or more. This indicates singles will increase their share of the economy. Korea has the fastest rate of growth for singles, according to figures quoted by Statistics Korea. Panasonic witnessed increased sales of Petite Drum Washing Machine in Korea by 30% giving rise to small but functional appliances. Similarly, the supply of compact housing with built-in furniture and appliances increased by 40% in Korea (2011).

Single and ready to adopt

The overall adoption figures in India continue to be low.  However more single women are coming forward to adopt children, shows data by Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA). Overall, 2671 and 2903 children were adopted in India in 2016 and 2015 respectively. Of this, 75 single women adopted a child in 2015. The number increased to 93 in 2016. As for their male counterpart five adopted children in 2015 and seven in 2016.

Nobody knows whether singledom will rise further. As forecasted by Euromonitor International, single person household, couple without children, the single-parent family will command a more significant share in global households by family type, and the percentage of couple with children will go down drastically.

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