Volume 47 - Article 24 | Pages 727–776  

Heterogeneity among the never married in a low-fertility context

By Jolene Tan


Background: While there has been extensive research on trends in marriage and singlehood, few studies have examined heterogeneity among never-married individuals in a low-fertility context. As a country that has experienced a steady decline in marriage and an accompanying rise in singlehood, Singapore presents a compelling context in which to study the singlehood phenomenon.

Objective: This study aims to understand variations in the never-married population based on their family-related attitudes. It seeks to classify the never married into subgroups and examine how these groups relate in terms of their sociodemographic traits and marriage desires.

Methods: Using data from the Perceptions of Singles on Marriage and Having Children study (N = 1,980), latent class analysis was performed to develop a typology of the never married. Latent class analysis applies a person-centered approach to identify heterogeneity between and homogeneity within subgroups based on associations among a set of observed indicators.

Results: Four never-married subgroups were identified: family conservatives (37%), conflicted conservatives (24%), family progressives (22%), and family skeptics (17%). There were distinct characteristics among subgroups in terms of age, sex, and relationship status. A strong gradient in marriage desires was found across the never-married subgroups, implying that variations between subgroups are an important determinant of the desire to marry.

Conclusions: The paper highlights the importance of recognizing diversity among the never-married population as a first step to understanding the flight from marriage.

Contribution: These findings have implications for societies with declining marriage and fertility rates, especially in contexts where marriage is closely linked to childbearing.

Author's Affiliation

Most recent similar articles in Demographic Research

Age-heterogamous partnerships: Prevalence and partner differences by marital status and gender composition
Volume 50 - Article 23    | Keywords: age heterogamy, assortative mating, cohabitation, marriage, same-sex couples, unions

Ultra-Orthodox fertility and marriage in the United States: Evidence from the American Community Survey
Volume 49 - Article 29    | Keywords: age at first marriage, American Community Survey (ACS), fertility, Judaism, marriage, religion, total fertility rate (TFR), Ultra-Orthodox Judaism

Near-universal marriage, early childbearing, and low fertility: India’s alternative fertility transition
Volume 48 - Article 34    | Keywords: age at birth, fertility transition, India, low fertility, sterilisation

Subnational variations in births and marriages during the COVID-19 pandemic in South Korea
Volume 48 - Article 30    | Keywords: COVID-19, fertility, Korea, marriage

Adult children’s union type and contact with mothers: A replication
Volume 48 - Article 23    | Keywords: cohabitation, intergenerational contacts, marriage

Cited References: 121

Download to Citation Manager


Google Scholar

Article ID