Friday 20 April 2018

From tax breaks to hotels, being single comes with a penalty

It's clear we're undergoing a shift in our society towards solitary living
It's clear we're undergoing a shift in our society towards solitary living

Lorraine Courtney

Whether you think singles are out there whooping it up or think that solo means saddos wolfing down endless ready meals, it's clear we're undergoing a shift in our society towards solitary living. Back in 1996 there were 1.1 million single people in Ireland. By 2011 this had soared to 1.5 million. But this change has crept up so gradually and insistently that it hasn't begun to register on the political radar yet.

The single-person home is fast becoming the most common type of household; in fact it's probably the most prominent lifestyle trend around today. Government statistics point to an extraordinary shift in our household structure over the past generation. There were 392,000 people living on their own at the time of the last census, almost evenly split between men and women at 194,000 and 198,000. The reasons range from later first marriages to the availability of divorce that allows people walk away, and then choose not to remarry or cohabit again. So the traditional image of the 2.2 family and goldfish has become increasingly unrepresentative of people's actual experience.

But life is horrendously expensive outside a couple. Everything costs more when you're going solo. You need to factor in mortgage repayments that cannot be split, utility bills, meals for one, running a car and even single supplements on holiday. There have even been some studies that show how singles are expected to work longer hours, for less pay, than their coupled up colleagues.

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