going solo | January 24, 2013

Alone, Together: Eric Klinenberg On Rising Global Rates Of Single Living

If you live alone—by your own choosing—you're in good company. As Eric Klinenberg points out in his book Going Solo, about one in seven Americans live alone, which amounts to 31 million people. Of those people, 50% are also single. 50 years ago, only 22% of the population was single and a mere four million lived alone. The rise in solo living has become one of the fastest growing social trends of the last half century.

If you thought that those numbers seemed high, just compare them to the number of single households in other countries around the world. In an article in the UK's Daily Mail, it's noted that the number of single-person households in the United States is much lower than in countries like Germany, France, and the UK. Scandinavia leads the pack with 47% of its residents living alone (and in Stockholm, 60%). What's even more interesting, is that many of these people have chosen to live on their own. "Today’s young singletons actively reframe living alone as a mark of distinction and success, not social failure," Klinenberg says.

As a society, we have begun to place a greater value in our independence. Klinenberg notes that even elderly people who have to be moved to special homes fight to maintain their level of independence for as long as possible. And, it seems that the rise of the singleton isn't a trend that will be dying down any time soon. "At this point in history," he writes, "it’s clear that living alone will be an enduring feature of the contemporary developed world." In his keynotes, Klinenberg expands on points made in his book. He explores how this trend is changing our cities, and our relationships with everyone around us.

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arts and pop culture | January 23, 2013