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Living Alone: Men and Women, Young to Old, Around the World

“During the past half century, our species has embarked on a remarkable social experiment. For the first time in human history, great numbers of people – at all ages, in all places, of every political persuasion – have begun settling down as singletons.”

That’s what the sociologist Eric Klinenberg said in Going Solo, his important book on the growing number of people who live alone (who he calls “singletons”).

The popularity of living alone, though, varies tremendously from one region of the world to another. It also differs greatly across the lifespan. There are gender differences, too – in the likelihood that they will live alone, men and women are not equals.

The differences in living alone by age, gender, and regions of the world have been documented in a study published online in Population and Development Review. In “Living alone over the life course: Cross-national variations on an emerging issue,” Albert Esteve and his colleagues reported patterns from 113 nations: 29 from Europe and North America, 24 from Asia and Oceania, 37 from Africa, and 23 from Latin America and the Caribbean. In their analyses of differences in living alone across the lifespan, they zeroed in on three age groups: (1) young adults, 25-29; (2) a middle group, ages 50-54; and (3) an older group, 75-79.

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