Rapid increase in `lonely` singles as nuclear families fade away

Melbourne: The number of lonely singles has shot up with 1.7 million more Aussies living by themselves in another two decades, says the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The next three years will also see couples without children overtaking the nuclear family as the most common family household.

With the number of households projected at 11.8 million Down Under in 2031 - an increase of 4 million from 2006 - lone person households will register a boost of 91 per cent.

While couples with children are the dominant family household now, by 2031, if trends continue, they will make just 2.5 million even as the number of couples living without children rises to 3.8 million.

`Mum, dad and the kids are down to one household in five. Over 50 years the shift has been quite profound,` The Age quoted KPMG demographer Bernard Salt, as saying.

An ageing population was driving the rise in single-person households, Salt noted.

He said: `These are not young, sexy singles ... but sad, lonely old baby boomers. The widowed, separated and divorced.`

However, experts also say the good old family is not dying out as people still want to get married.