There's a "man drought" on the Australian coast, and a "man dam" in the country’s remote bush. Though the nation was flush with men some 30 years ago, due to immigration policies that favored males, today's Australian women have it harder than their baby boomer sisters did 30 years ago.
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Demographer Bernard Salt's book "Man Drought," which was released this week, reveals that love is really where you look for it in Australia, and that it pays to go the distance.
“There is simply less product for 30-something women, in particular, to choose from,” he said.
"In the old days, we believed Mr. or Mrs. Right would show up someday, but as we remain single for much longer, and are far more mobile, the chances are more remote," Salt told Reuters.
"You need to get out and broaden your circles," he advises.
According to the latest statistics bureau data, there were 96,900 more females than males in Australia as of June 2005.
Salt said the main reason for the man shortage, especially in Australia's coastal cities, was the abundance of women who move from the interior seeking better jobs and lifestyles.
“Single men are concentrated in rural and remote communities, whereas single women prefer the city and lifestyle towns,” Salt explained. “A generation ago, women were more likely to remain in rural communities.” This widespread movement of women away from rural areas into major cities has caused a major shift and a “gender imbalance.”
A Queensland outback mayor made international headlines this month when he called for female “ugly ducklings” to move to the remote mine town of Mt. Isa if they were desperate to meet a man.
Giving Cupid a hand
According to the statistics bureau, the proportion of singles among Australia's 21 million population is rising from 20 percent to 25 percent in only a decade.
Singles households are expected to rise from 1.8 million in 2001 to more than 3 million in 2026, when the population will hit 24 million.
Salt advises those serious about finding a partner to consider shifting homes.
“For some odd reason, there are more single men than single women, and you find a lot of them in rural communities,” he said.
“If you find yourself in the wrong town then why not relocate to the right town where you are in the market.”
Salt pinpoints northern Queensland state's mining communities as the best places for women to find love, while men in the vast outback need time in the big cities for Cupid to play his part.
But age also plays a role. Salt says men suffer a “Sheila shortage” in their 20s, whereas women endure a “man drought” from 34 onwards. “Sheila” is colloquial for woman.
At the age of 25, women have the best odds of finding a partner as there are 23 percent more single men than women. But the odds shorten after 30, and by 34 there are more single women than unattached men.
By age 40, single women outnumber single men by 9 percent and that divide lifts to 17 percent by age 50. At 80, it's a dramatic 66 percent, Salt said.
Salt's solution: move to a place like Nar Nar Goon town in Victoria state, where its population of 600 has 12 single men in their 30s and one single woman.
“It's a man dam there. A reservoir of men,” he said. “You find this right across Australia, little reservoirs of untapped men.”
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