Pauline St. Denis/Corbis
Sean De Burca/Corbis
Tim Hale Photography/Corbis
Household sizes are shrinking. Back in 1960, just under half of American households consisted of married couples with kids. Today, that number has dwindled to just 21%, with single occupancy dwellings growing faster than ever, outpacing both nuclear and multigenerational segments.
Census data reveals that 27% of Americans now live alone and Time magazine recently named solitary living as one the biggest trends poised to impact the world over the next ten years. Rates are even higher in other countries: 47% of households in Sweden are inhabited by one person, compared to 32% in Japan and 28% in Canada.
Globally, the number of single-person households has climbed thirty percent in the last decade alone. An increased standard of living is driving the trend in emerging markets, where female employment rates are rising and more women are now able to support themselves. Younger people in developed nations, meanwhile, are delaying marriage as they focus on education and careers.
Globally, more elderly people are living alone as life expectancy increases and seniors choose to live independently for as long as possible. The fact that the trend toward solo living has persisted despite widespread economic struggles is a testament to the growing value of independence for people of all ages.
As more people embrace a solo lifestyle, the needs and preferences of the average consumer are changing. Massive domiciles in the suburbs are quickly being replaced by urban micro apartments, while the icons of suburban family life such as lawn mowers, minivans and Costco memberships may soon become relics of a bygone era.