With Americans marrying later, if at all, about 29% of households are comprised of one person, a record high.
The U.S. Census revealed that "solitaries" made up only 8% of all households in 1940, doubled to 18% in 1970, and reached an estimated 29% by 2022, The Hill reported.
The share of Americans who had not married by age 40 fell below 10% from 1950 through 1980, according to a Pew Research analysis. The figure has soared in recent decades, reaching a record-high 25% in 2021.
Living alone is much more common in large cities. Singles now make up more than 40% of households in Atlanta, Seattle, San Francisco, Minneapolis, and Denver, according to a paper by the British historian Keith Snell. Half of Manhattan apartments are one-person residences.
At younger ages, men outnumber women in one-person households. Young men are far more likely than young women to be single, and they tend to marry later.
Solo households are far more common across much of Europe than in the U.S. According to U.N. data, solitaries make up 39% of households in Denmark, 45% in Finland, 42% in Germany, 38% in the Netherlands, 39% in Norway, and 40% in Sweden.
Some researchers see a downside to living alone, especially for older Americans, for people who live outside cities, and for anyone who is not alone by choice.
A New York Times report on aging solitaries concluded: "While many people in their 50s and 60s thrive living solo, research is unequivocal that people aging alone experience worse physical and mental health outcomes and shorter life spans."
Those outcomes include heart disease, anxiety, and depression, The Hill reported.
But Barbara Risman, a distinguished professor of sociology at the University of Illinois Chicago, noted that “one can live alone and have a tight family network, friends who care about you and you talk to on a daily or weekly basis."
According to Bella DePaulo, author of the upcoming book "Single at Heart": "Living alone can be a dream come true. You get to curate your own life. You decide when to go to sleep and when to get up, what and when to eat, what to watch or to listen to for entertainment, and how warm or cool your place will be."
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