The number of people living alone globally has skyrocketed, rising from around 153 million in 1996 to 277 million in 2011. That’s an 80% increase in just 15 years (according to market research firm Euromonitor International).
In the UK, 34% of households have one person living in them, in the US it’s 27%, the majority of them women. Most of them are middle-aged adults aged between 35 and 64. But young adults between 18 and 34 fall into the fastest-growing sector of people living alone today.
Most of these solo dwellers live in Scandinavian countries – they’re able to afford the luxury because of welfare states, we assume. Yet China, India and Brazil are the nations with the fastest growth in one-person households.
Eric Klinenberg has written a book about it called Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone. His book includes interviews with people living alone, some of them well known individuals. It’s interesting reading, to say the least.
As of his interviewees, Alex Zane 33 years old, says: “It’s not about selfishness, just knowing what you like and doing what you want without having to take another person into account… Living alone provides me with the time I need to recharge, and to let loose the aspects of my personality best labelled ‘Not for Public Consumption’”.
Half of America’s adults are unmarried, and nearly 15% of them live on their own. What does this trend say about marriage, or the lack of it?
- Women are marrying later – their careers provide them with greater opportunity (in particular there is a rise in this trend in both Japan and in Islamic Iran)
- The ‘advantages’ of marriage – financial, sexual, stable relationship – are now all possible outside of the institution
- Fewer but better marriages – living alone no longer means that you are automatically ‘lonely’ or searching for that ‘someone’
- Traditional marriage is on the decline – fewer of us choose marriage, more of us are single, and more same-sex couples are getting married
- We marry later, we divorce and stay single for years, sometimes decades
- Never marrying no longer makes you less content that those who do (there is nothing more lonely than living with the wrong person)
Happy Wedding Planning!