(March 2003) The percentage of people living alone is increasing. Between 1970 and 2002, the percentage of adults who lived alone increased from 8 percent to 14 percent. Among individuals 18 to 24, the increase was fairly modest, from 2 percent to 5 percent. However, the percentage of individuals living alone increased from 4 percent to 10 percent among 25-to-34-year-olds and from 3 percent to 9 percent among 35-to-44-year-olds. These age groups span the life stages in which most people get married, yet fewer people are marrying now than ever before.


Older Americans are the most likely to live alone. In 2002, about 31 percent of the population ages 65 and over lived alone, an increase of one percentage point from the previous year.


See graph (PDF: 24KB)


What explains the rise in solitary living in recent years? There are probably several contributing factors. Beyond changes in marriage and fertility patterns, there have been increases in life expectancy and in the desire for residential independence.




AmeriStat, tabulations from the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey (March Supplement), various years.