The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sex & the City girls mean business

Single, educated women have become one of the most powerful driving forces in the global economy, says a study.

With more earning potential than their mothers and grandmothers, and with their own pensions, mortgages, life policies and investments, they wield huge economic clout.

Yet politicians largely ignore this new demographic group, dubbed Sex and the City voters while advertisers are failing to recognise their strength.

These are the conclusions of consumer and political analysts who suggest that advertisers and politicians “alter the focus of their key messages”.

In its report, Trends in Women’s Lives, Datamonitor, a market research company, says: “The marketing industry has always acknowledged women to be a powerful consumer force. But this has been due to their role as purchasers for an entire household.

“Women are now independent and confident consumers.”

There are more British women than men training as accountants and lawyers, attracted by the high earning power, it says.

Across the EU as a whole, more women than men are taking up tertiary education to boost their earning potential.

This has been accompanied by a 52 per cent increase in single female homebuyers in the last decade, with single women now buying one in seven properties and accounting for nearly a fifth of new mortgage lending.

Britain’s divorce rate, the highest in Europe, and a narrowing of the male-female pay divide is helping to fuel a rapid growth in the number of single women with liquid assets of more than £25,000. Around 195,000 single women in Britain have such assets — cash and easy-to-sell investments — worth a total of £10.2 billion.

While some have inherited money or acquired it through a divorce settlement, many others have built up their wealth because of a devotion to their career.

Datamonitor says that in 2002, single females helped push women’s spending power in Europe and America as a whole to £2,000 billion, a figure that will rise to £2,500 billion in the next five years. In Britain, the figure is set to rise from £125 billion to £138 billion.

In voting terms, single people are overwhelmingly ignored at the polls. Bella DePaulo, chairman of the board of academic advisers of the American Association for Single People, said: “They aren’t considered a voting block and no one panders to them but politicians must pay attention.”

In America, Democratic Party pollsters, who work closely with Britain’s Labour Party, have identified single women as the key demographic group that it must galvanise if it is to recover the White House next year.

George W. Bush had a one per cent lead among married women in 2000 while single women went for the Democrats by 31 per cent. But while 62 per cent of married women went to the polls in 2000, only 43 per cent of singles did.

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