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How and Why There Are So Many Singles in Canada

New data shows that today's generation in Canada are less likely to couple up.

Photo by NITIN CHAUHAN: Pexels
Source: Photo by NITIN CHAUHAN: Pexels

According to new data released by Statistics Canada, Canada is showing a significant demographic change in terms of couplehood and marriage. Compared with previous generations, today's younger adults in Canada are less likely to be living as part of a couple.

Alternatives like living alone, with roommates, or with parents have become more common. While more than two-thirds (68 percent) of people aged 25 to 29 were in a couple in 1981, this was the case for just under two-fifths (39 percent) of people in this age group in 2021.

These trends resemble those in other countries and reflect numbers seen across the world. For example, according to a recent Pew report, approximately one-quarter of today’s young adults in the United States will never marry. Across the world, adults are marrying late, divorce is more prevalent, and public attitudes toward the social status of marriage reflect a decline.

According to data from Statistics Canada, the marriage rate in Canada has been gradually decreasing over the past several decades. In 1971, the marriage rate in Canada was 6.3 marriages per 1,000 people. By 2019, the marriage rate had fallen to 4.5 marriages per 1,000 people.

Moreover, the percentage of people who are single (never married) has been gradually increasing in Canada over the past several decades. In 1981, about 33 percent of the population aged 15 and over was single. By 2016, that percentage had risen to about 45 percent of the population aged 15 and over.

Reasons for Singlehood in Canada

There could be many reasons why there are a high proportion of singles in Canada. Some possible factors include an increase in the number of people who are choosing to remain single, a decline in the marriage rate, and an increase in the number of people who are divorced or separated. Other factors could include changing societal attitudes towards marriage and relationships and an increase in the number of people who are pursuing higher education or career opportunities, which may make it more difficult for them to find time to form long-term relationships.

Some other possible reasons include an increase in the number of people who are focused on their personal goals and may not have time or energy to invest in a long-term relationship. In particular, some people choose to prioritize their personal freedom and independence over the idea of being in a committed relationship.

Furthermore, an increase in the number of people who are divorced or separated may make Canadians more hesitant to enter into a new relationship. Finally, the availability of new technologies and social media platforms makes it easier for people to connect with others and form alternative forms of social networks, without the need for a romantic partner.

These are just some possible reasons why people in Canada may be choosing to remain single. The experiences of individual people can vary greatly, and there could be many other factors at play as well.

Looking Ahead

It is likely that the trend of decreasing couplehood and marriage rates will continue in Canada. The changing dynamics of relationships and societal attitudes toward marriage indicate a shift in the way individuals perceive and approach long-term partnerships.

One factor that may contribute to the continued rise in singlehood is the increasing emphasis on personal goals and individual fulfillment. Many young adults prioritize their own personal growth, career advancement, and self-discovery over committing to a long-term relationship. This focus on personal development and independence may lead to a delay in seeking out a partner or opting to remain single altogether.

Additionally, the prevalence of divorce and separation has contributed to a growing number of individuals who are hesitant to enter into new relationships. Those who have experienced the dissolution of a marriage or long-term partnership may approach new relationships with caution, which can result in a higher proportion of single individuals.

The advancements in technology and the widespread use of social media platforms have also impacted relationship dynamics. These platforms provide alternative means of connecting with others and forming social networks, reducing the perceived necessity of a romantic partner. Online communities and digital interactions offer avenues for companionship and emotional support that may fulfill the social needs of individuals without the need for traditional couplehood.

Furthermore, societal attitudes toward marriage and relationships have shifted over time. The perception of marriage as a social expectation or necessity has diminished, and individuals are now more likely to prioritize personal happiness and well-being over conforming to traditional relationship norms. This change in mindset is likely to influence future generations' decisions regarding couplehood and marriage.

As we look ahead, it is important to recognize that individual preferences and circumstances vary greatly and we should respect this. Many individuals will still desire and pursue long-term partnerships, but the overall landscape of relationships in Canada is likely to evolve.


The demographic changes in couplehood and marriage rates in Canada reflect global trends seen in other countries. Factors such as personal goals, changing societal attitudes, divorce rates, and technological advancements contribute to the rise in singlehood.

Looking ahead, it is reasonable to expect that these trends will persist, shaping the dynamics of relationships and redefining societal norms surrounding couplehood and marriage. However, it is important to remember that individual choices and circumstances vary, and there will always be a diversity of experiences and preferences when it comes to relationships.


Fisher, A. N., Stinson, D. A., Wood, J. V., Holmes, J. G., & Cameron, J. J. (2021). Singlehood and attunement of self-esteem to friendships. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 12(7), 1326-1334.

Girme, Y. U., Park, Y., & MacDonald, G. (2022). Coping or Thriving? Reviewing Intrapersonal, Interpersonal, and Societal Factors Associated With Well-Being in Singlehood From a Within-Group Perspective. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 17456916221136119.

MacDonald, G., & Park, Y. (2022). Associations of attachment avoidance and anxiety with life satisfaction, satisfaction with singlehood, and desire for a romantic partner. Personal Relationships, 29(1), 163-176.

Waite, S., Denier, N., & Pajovic, V. (2021). Who’s Hitched? Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Heterosexual Partnering in Canada. Canadian Studies in Population, 48(4), 403-439.

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