Weddings at a Cathederal
A report suggests there is decline in the number of marriages in UK. Reuters

More than half of the adult population in England and Wales prefers to stay out of wedlock, finds an estimate based on a research conducted by the Office for National Statistics.

The figures released by the ONS Tuesday show that less than half of the adult population is married. According to the data, 48.2 percent of the 44.9 million adults who live in England and Wales were married in 2010.

About 35.6 percent were counted as single, 9.3 percent were divorced, while 7.0 percent were widowed.

The study noted that the number of those who have never married has doubled since the 1970s.

The report Population Estimates by Marital Status highlights the rise of the "freemale"- a female who opts for single life and prefers friendships rather than extended romantic relationships - revealing that almost one in three women have never wed.

Many of the single women, who have achieved a better standard of education than men and have pursued their careers, are in their 20s and 30s.

About 8 million women live the single life or opt for informal cohabiting relationships rather than with husband or family.

The Daily Mail reports that married people first appeared to fall into a minority three years ago, but ONS analysts insisted the numbers were misleading, saying they failed to take into account the large number of people who marry abroad.

The latest study, carried out in the middle of last year, includes estimates of those who married before migrating to Britain, or while living as expats abroad, or as tourists away on holiday.

The report notes that the number of marriages might be less but the proportion of the adult married population of England and Wales is one of the highest in Europe.

The study concluded that the proportion of the adult population that is married and widowed continues to decline, while the proportion of those who are single and divorced continues to rise.