The decline of marriage has left ever-increasing numbers of middle-aged men and women living alone.
Report by Daily Mail
Almost 2,5 million between 45 and 64 have their own home but no spouse, partner or children to live with them.
The army of such loners has grown by more than 50% — 800 000-plus — since the mid-1990s, an official analysis said recently.
And the number of men on their own has increased far more than women.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) report suggests that men who have not committed to long-term relationships or whose marriages have been ended by divorce are finding it harder to win partners once they reach middle age.
One reason could be that middle-aged women with good qualifications and jobs have little interest in forming relationships with lower-earning men.
The rapid rise in middle-aged loners has stoked demand for homes, pushing up the number of households in the country.
The huge number of men who say they are living alone, however, could be partly accounted for by the benefits system, which penalises couples and pays far greater handouts to women who say they are single parents.
Well over a million couples are thought to be “living apart together” to secure the highest possible tax credits and benefits.
Family researcher Patricia Morgan said of the ONS analysis: “These are appalling figures and we have to ask why the government is ignoring this development.
“This is a fall-out from the spread of casual unions and the effective state discrimination against marriage.”
She added: “The growth of numbers of people living alone is very expensive indeed, in terms of state benefits, the need for more development and health and social services care, because people who live alone are more likely to need the NHS or social services.
By far the greatest share of the increase is accounted for by the 45-to-64 age group and the fastest rise in middle-aged people living alone is among men.
According to the ONS report on family life, one reason is the growing numbers of over-45s in the country as the baby boom generation of the 1960s reach middle age.
But the report said: “The increase in those living alone also coincides with a decrease in the percentage of those in this age group who are married — from 79% in 1996 to 69% in 2012 — and a rise in the percentage of those who have never married or are divorced, from 16% in 1996 to 28% in 2012.”