In a record high for the United States, nearly 30 percent of American households have only a single person living in them.
As reported by The Hill, the U.S. Census data recorded that 29 percent of Americans are living alone as of 2022. In 1970, that number stood at just 18 percent, and a mere 8 percent were living alone in 1940.
“It’s just a stunning social change,” said Eric Klinenberg, a sociologist at New York University. “I came to see it as the biggest demographic change in the last century that we failed to recognize and take seriously.”
The rising number of Americans living alone is seen as a major transformation rather than a temporary trend, and one that defies human nature throughout most of recorded history. This new pattern appears to be directly connected to other forms of social decline in the American population and throughout the world, including a decrease in marriage and birth rates.
In conjunction with the rise in single-person households, the rates of Americans remaining unmarried has similarly skyrocketed. From 1950 to 1980, the percentage of Americans who were unmarried by the age of 40 remained consistently at about 10 percent. By 2021, that number had jumped to a record high of 25 percent.
Another factor that may contribute to this rise in single-person homes is women entering the workforce, forgoing their longtime roles throughout history as stay-at-home wives and mothers. By about 1980, 50 percent of all women in the United States had entered the labor force in some capacity.
“You don’t really see people living alone until women have control of their own lives and their own bodies,” Klinenberg added, citing historical precedent.
The negative effects of increased solo households have been noted by even mainstream media outlets. “While many people in their 50s and 60s thrive living solo,” the New York Times stated in a recent article, “research is unequivocal that people aging alone experience worse physical and mental health outcomes and shorter life spans.”