Rising global interest in growing numbers of single-person households?

Sociologist Eric Klinenberg drew attention to the growing number of single-person households in the United States but the numbers are even higher in Switzerland:

Sociologists claim that Switzerland’s singletons are changing the housing landscape in the country.

In 2010, the Federal Statistics Office reported that over 36 percent of registered addresses were single-person households, one of the highest proportions in the world.

Here are some Euromonitor figures on single-person households around the world:

-The number of single-person households is steadily increasing globally owing to improving standards of living and a growing trend towards smaller household structures. The number of single-person households globally has risen by 30.1% between 2001 and 2011 and reached 277 million or 14.9% of total households by the end of the period;

-This trend is seen across regions and within both developed and emerging and developing economies. However, it is more pronounced in the developed economies of Western Europe and North America where the proportion of single-person households stood at 31.0% and 27.6% respectively in 2011 compared to 10.9% in the Middle East and Africa region;
-By 2020, the number of single-person households globally will rise to 331 million or 15.7% of total households. The USA will have the highest number of single-person households in the world at 36.3 million followed by China (31.6 million), Japan (18.2 million) and India (17.4 million) in 2020;

The primary objective of this conference is to advance theoretical and empirical knowledge on the formation of single-person households in Asia and their implications for individual well-being and intergenerational relations. We invite submission of papers to examine the trends and determinants of single-person households in Asian countries. Longitudinal and comparative works are particularly welcome.

Family structure in Asia has undergone significant changes in the past several decades. A fast-growing trend that has raised concerns by scholars and policy makers is an increase in single-person households. By 2020, it is estimated that four out of the top ten countries with highest number of single-person households in the world will be in Asia. The increase raises questions regarding how family functions, and indeed regarding the definition of family system itself. Statistics show a high level of heterogeneity among groups who live alone, some by choice, others out of needs. The increasing number of single-person households for both young adults and elderly warrants special attentions as they are the two groups with the highest propensity to live in a single-person household. This group of population may be at higher risk of financial stress or social isolation. In particular, studies on solo-living of young adults are rare in the Asian context. In the face of vastly different paces of change, structurally and culturally, in the region, research that examines the trends of single-person households in different Asian societies would help us to understand the impacts of social changes on families in Asia.

This a rising global trend that has the potential to transform numerous societies. This also might be an interesting example of globalization: a trend that begins among young adults in relatively wealthy countries spreads around the world.

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