Census Data – Numbers of Single Women

Census Data – Numbers of Single Women

The number of Single Women in India, in total, is more than the population of many countries! The Census reports document the numbers of women, age-wise, state-wise, who are widows, separated and divorced, and never-married/unmarried. Female-headed households are also reported.

Note that we have calculated figures that include only “Unmarried/Never-Married” women age 35 or more. This is because younger unmarried women’s life experience is quite different from the “older-never-married women”. Most young unmarried women still expect to get married soon. Older-never-married women can also get married after age 35, but in the Indian culture, the chances are much less.

And the data presented here is for the last Census data available, which is 2011 – well over 10 years ago! And so we may safely add several Million More Single Women to some of the numbers, and certainly to the total number of Single Women in the country!

Some state-wise data has been presented for some other states including Rajasthan. These states have been associated with the National Forum for Single Women’s Rights as of 2011. Of course, the Census web pages for “Marital Status by Age (classified as C2 on the Census of India website)” contain data for all States and Union Territories of India.

Single Women in India – Comparing 2001 and 2011 Census Data

The details of population by Marital Status from the Census 2011 were made available to the public in July 2015. We have gleaned the following information from the Census data tables on Marital Status by Age (classified as C2 on the Census of India website).


Female Population by Marital Status
Census 2001 and 2011

  Category Census 2011 Census 2001
1. Total Female Population 58,75,84,719 49,65,14,346
2. Female Population (age 15 +) 40,94,91,978 32,23,90,856
3. Currently Married Women (all ages) 29,30,77,472 23,67,72,617
4. Never Married Women (age 35+) 41,66,136 25,09,854
5. Widowed Women (all ages) 4,32,61,478 3,42,89,729
6. Separated Women (all ages) 23,72,754 23,42,930*
7. Divorced Women (all ages) 9,09,573
8. Total Single Women in India (sum 4 to 7) 5,07,09,941 3,91,42,513
9. Female Headed Households 2,68,88,926 1,99,87,958

* In Census 2001 disaggregated data is not available for Separated and Divorced women.


Single Women in India, Census 2011
(For States At that Time Associated With the National Forum for Single Women’s Rights)

Area Widowed Separated Divorced Never Married
(Age 35 +)
Total Single Women
India 432,61,478 23,72,754 9,09,573 41,66,136 507,09,941*
Andhra Pradesh and Telengana** 42,97,481 3,05,046 66,691 3,43,973 50,13,191
Gujarat 20,15,742 72,346 88,753 1,94,289 23,71,130
Himachal Pradesh 2,93,475 6,956 4,549 19,032 3,24,012
Jharkhand 10,27,878 43,208 12,672 1,22,850 12,06,608
Maharashtra 45,20,764 2,91,478 1,54,274 4,54,900 54,21,416
Punjab 9,28,158 33,021 18,471 62,003 10,41,653
Rajasthan 19,83,634 67,048 23,758 1,13,733 21,88,173
Uttarakhand 3,87,215 11,032 3,922 24,032 4,26,201

*Total Single Women in India in 2011 - when count “Never Married” as +35 age - 41,66,136. Then Total Single Women in India is 50,13,191 or 5,013,191
Total Single Women in India in 2011 -- when count “Never Married” as age 18+ -- 4,14,36,480. Then Total Single Women in India is 8,79,80,285 or 87,980,285.
**As at the time of the Census, Telangana had not become a separate state and disaggregated data for the 2 states is not available.


Some Important Statistics

  • Single Women constitute 8.6% of the total female population in India.
  • A country made up of Indian Single Women would be the 24th most populous nation in the world, ahead of South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Australia and many more.
  • Singlehood seems to be a problem mostly for women. The numbers of widowed, separated and divorced men are considerably less than those of women in similar situations, 1,38,92,420 men as compared to 4,65,43,802 women.
  • Percentage growth in female population is 18.3%, while that in the number of Single Women is 29.6%. Over 10 years, there are a larger number of older widows, and also a larger number of never married women over the age of 35, pointing towards both demographic and societal changes adding to the growth in numbers of Single Women.
  • The number of Never Married Women over the age of 35 has seen a sharp increase of almost 66%. This seems to indicate an increase in the number of women choosing to stay unmarried, or women deciding to marry late.
  • Female headed households have grown by 34.5% and given the ever increasing migration of young men to cities it seems that the number will continue to grow. This again is a worrying trend, as policy making largely continues to cater to male headed households.
  • In 2001 data about separated and divorced women was not disaggregated. This year, 2011, the data has been disaggregated. This has been possible due to the intervention of the National Forum in 2009, which had demanded that Separated women be enumerated separately.
  • The data regarding Separated Women does not seem to reflect the reality, as we feel that the number should be more. It is true that due to social stigma many women and their families would not admit of marriage breakdown to a data collector.
  • As in 2001, in 2011 also the data continues to show the existence of married females under the age of 18 years, resulting in a small number of widowed, separated and divorced females under the age of 18 years.

National Forum for Single Women’s Rights
39 Kharol Colony,
Udaipur, Rajasthan. 313 004

Email – natforum09@gmail.com