One is a significant number: Living
alone a major population trend
By Janet Jacobsen
Jan/Feb 2004 issue
Living alone by choice is a major U.S. population trend, according to
American Demographics magazine, which devoted a recent cover story to
the topic. The 2000 census found 27.2 million singles living alone, about
26% of all American households. The figure is projected to be 28% by 2010,
with 35 million people. All this is compared to just 10% of households
Almost a quarter of those living alone are young people under 35 who have
never married. And about half - about 15 million - are older adults, according
to an estimate by the AARP.
Among women, 28% live alone, compared to 16% of men. One marketing firm
has identified eight consumer segments that are likely to be single householders:
activegrandmothers (69%), upscale mature women (56%), working class women
63%), fit and stylish students (52%), fixed income grandmothers (87%),
sedentary men (90%), well-to-do-gentlemen (76%) and working-class men
The issue notes that singles living alone tend to have at least two things
in common: financial success and the will-ingness to spend to satisfy
their desires, at least more so than in multi-person households.
In hard times, families cut out luxuries, but singles dont necessarily.
As a result, marketers are finally starting to pay attention to the needs
About 40% of single-person households are in urban areas; in rural America,
about 20% of households are singles. This tendency toward city life may
somewhat account for the fact that singles spend more on restaurant meals.
Singles are defining family in new ways, such as a person
and their pets, or mutual members of an organization such as an aerobics
class. Single homebuyers look for walkability - neighborhoods
where they dont have to get into the car to do everything. Community
then comes from the people one interacts with regularly, such as at the
dry cleaner and the grocery. Some businesses - such as Starbucks or boutique
adventure travel firms - are emphasizing that their customers are a community.
The magazine notes that our notion of single person household
may need to change. A divorced parent may have part-time custody. And
long-distance relationships may result in weekend live-in
The magazine concludes, Those people who choose to live alone are
mak-ing what can be considered a very American decision to live life on
their own terms, creating their own communities without regrets or claims
made on their lives that they dont consent to.