What Percentage of the World Population Is Single?

Falling in love is meant to be one of the sweetest feelings in the world. Some people fall in love once and it lasts for life, while others are a little unlucky in love. So how many people in the world are spoken for, and how many are single?

While it’s impossible to determine the exact percentage of the global population of single people, it’s estimated to be around 34.5% of people. There are more singles now than ever before, due to societal trends like people getting married later in life or not at all.

Let’s take a closer look at global trends regarding relationship status.

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What does single mean?

The term single is used to describe adults who are not married or in a serious relationship. People who don’t have a boyfriend, girlfriend, fiancé, partner, husband, or wife are classified as single. Governments use single and married status for tax and other legal purposes.

Some people have been single their entire adult lives, while others have been in serious long-term relationships or marriages before breaking up. Either way, the idea of single vs. married pertains to someone’s current relationship status. While in the past marriage was a top priority, more and more people in today’s world are comfortable being single throughout some, if not all, of their adult life.

How many people are single in the U.S.?

In the early 20th century, it was expected that young men and women would marry and produce offspring in their late teens or early 20s. That was just part of life, both in the U.S. and in other countries like Canada, Australia, and Europe. With every decade, these expectations have shifted, and now being single is embraced by many countries and cultures.

Americans are waiting to settle down, marry and have children, which is why the percentage of the population that’s single has gone up. Around three in ten or 31% of U.S. adults consider themselves single, meaning they are not married, living with a significant other, or in a committed relationship.

Compare that to 61.96 million married people, and that will give you a better indication of Americans and their relationship status. Remember, American women on average are now waiting until they are around 28, rather than 22 to 23, to get married and start a family.

How many people are single in the U.K.?

North America and Europe have similar rates of single and married people. In the U.K., around 51% of people are single as marriage rates continue to fall. That’s 28.4 million singles and 24.3 million married folks in England and Wales.

The overall U.K. divorce rate sits at 31.8%, although it depends on how long couples have been together. For example, an English couple that’s been married 10 years has a divorce rate of 18.9% compared to a 42% divorce rate for couples married 40 years.

Another factor in the number of single people in the U.K. is people delaying marriage until they are older. This number has been rising since the 70s. In 1972, the average age for men getting married was 27.4, but now it’s 38.4. The average woman marrying a man is 36.1 years old compared to 24.7 years half a century ago.

What is the global marriage rate?

Unsplash / Євгенія Височина

Despite rising numbers of single people around the world, marriage remains popular and a widely accepted step in life for most people. Overall, around 64% of the world population is married, including two-thirds of women. This number has fallen slightly from 69% back in 1970, which is on trend with a global decline in marriages.

Here are the countries with the most marriages per 1,000 people:

  1. Palestine – 10
  2. Fiji – 9.8
  3. Egypt – 9.6
  4. Bahamas – 9.5
  5. Uzbekistan – 9.5
  6. Tajikistan – 8.9
  7. Albania – 8
  8. Mauritius – 7.9
  9. Kyrgyzstan – 7.8
  10. Sri Lanka – 7.8

For comparison, the U.S. sits at 6.9 marriages per 1,000 people, with Australia at 4.6 and the U.K. at 4.4. While many western nations have seen marriage rates fall in the past few decades, marriage is on the rise in parts of the world like Russia, China, and Bangladesh.

What is the global divorce rate?

To better understand how many people are single around the world, it helps to consider the global divorce rate. While around 34.5% of the global population is thought to be single, around 41% of people go through at least one divorce, if not more. Divorce rates have been on the rise throughout the past century, as the stigma around marriage breakups slowly fades away.

Before people get married, they are considered single, and if they end up divorced, they are once more classified as single until they enter into another long-term relationship or remarry. Almost 50% of marriages result in a divorce in the U.S., with the divorce rate similar in other western countries. Some nations have a lower divorce rate due to religious and societal beliefs.

What’s interesting is how the U.S. divorce rate has stalled and even dropped slightly in recent years, which is due in part to fewer people getting married. American marriages are at an all-time low, with under 8 marriages per 1,000 people.

What countries have the most divorces?

Some singles have never been in a committed relationship and others have been married before eventually getting divorced. Everyone’s story is unique, although divorce is widely accepted and understood in a lot of countries where 100 years ago, the dissolution of marriage was highly frowned upon.

Here’s a list of countries with the highest divorce rate per 1,000 people:

  1. Russia – 4.7
  2. Guam – 4.2
  3. Moldova – 3.7
  4. Belarus – 3.4
  5. Latvia – 3.1
  6. Ukraine – 3.1
  7. Lithuania – 3
  8. Kazakhstan – 3
  9. Cuba – 2.9
  10. Georgia – 2.7

While the divorce rate may be high in these countries, other nations lead the way in total number of divorces due to the sheer size of their population. In China, there are 1,893,000 divorces per year, while in the U.S. it’s around 1.1 million. Russia is next in line with 685,910 divorces annually, followed by Japan at 257,475 and Germany at 190,928.