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Singles Scene News
PO Box 10159
Scottsdale AZ 85271
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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 in 1950.


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 (78%).


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 don’t necessarily. As a result, marketers are finally starting to pay attention to the needs of singles.


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 don’t 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” lovers.


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 don’t consent to.”