More than one-third of unmarried adults in their 20s to 40s have never been in a relationship and one-fourth have no intention of ever getting married, a recent survey found.

At 34.1%, the ratio of single men and women who have never had a romantic relationship was at a record high since Recruit Holdings Co., a staffing service group, began conducting surveys on people's views on marriage in 2017.

The figure of 25.6% for people not seeking marriage nearly matches the finding in last year's gender equality survey by the Japanese government, which has been struggling to deal with the country's low birthrate and labor shortage. But Recruit said the number was notably up from 2021 when it stood at 21.1%.

The latest survey was conducted in September and released this month. It covered 1,200 single adults who have never been married.

Among the respondents in their 20s, 19.4% of women and 23.7% of men said having a romantic relationship is a waste of time and money. The percentage was lower among older male respondents, but it was notably higher among female respondents in their 30s at 23.6%, rising sharply from 14.6% in the previous survey in 2021.

Among men of all age groups who do not want to marry, the top reason, given by 42.5%, was the financial strain of married life. As for women, 40.5% said they do not want to compromise their freedom and independence.

While 46.1% of all respondents said they want to marry eventually, the number has been on the downtrend, falling from 55.4% in 2017 and 52.6% in 2021.

Among the respondents in their 20s, 44.3% of females and 34.6% of males said they would only date someone for the purpose of finding a marriage partner.