In today's New York Times, sociologist Eric Klinenberg writes about the major demographic shift he examines in his new book Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone. Census data show that more than 32 million Americans live alone today. The article features graphics based on analysis by Social Explorer's Susan Weber and Andrew Beveridge, from historical and current census data. Klinenberg investigates this trend across different genders, ages, races, incomes and more, both in the US and internationally.
More people live alone than at any other time in history. In prosperous American cities — Atlanta, Denver, Seattle, San Francisco and Minneapolis — 40 percent or more of all households contain a single occupant. In Manhattan and in Washington, nearly one in two households are occupied by a single person.
The decision to live alone is common in diverse cultures whenever it is economically feasible...
The mere thought of living alone once sparked anxiety, dread and visions of loneliness. But those images are dated. Now the most privileged people on earth use their resources to separate from one another, to buy privacy and personal space.
Living alone comports with modern values. It promotes freedom, personal control and self-realization — all prized aspects of contemporary life.
Klinenberg also analyzes how singletons are more actively engaged in social and civic life than their partnered peers.