The decline and fall of a society can be measured in statistics like these. The decline of marriage has long since been paired with a decline in relationships in general. Pregnancy and even abortion rates are falling. Families are breaking up or not even forming. More and more Americans are living on their own.
Nearly 30 percent of American households comprise a single person, a record high.
Scholars say living alone is not a trend so much as a transformation: Across much of the world, large numbers of people are living alone for the first time in recorded history.
“It’s just a stunning social change,” said Eric Klinenberg, a sociologist at New York University and author of the book “Going Solo.” “I came to see it as the biggest demographic change in the last century that we failed to recognize and take seriously.”
Friendships, extended families, are also coming apart. People live online lives. And they die online.
The U.S. Census shows that “solitaries” made up 8 percent of all households in 1940. The share of solo households doubled to 18 percent in 1970 and more than tripled, to an estimated 29 percent, by 2022.
The solo-living movement intersects with several other societal trends. Americans are marrying later, if at all. The nation is aging. The national birthrate is falling. People are living longer — or they were, until the pandemic arrived.
We’re ‘extinctioning’ ourselves. While we are being conquered, much like the Japanese who aren’t being invaded, we’re also ushering ourselves to the civilizational exit.
Living alone is much more common in large cities. Singles now make up more than 40 percent of households in Atlanta, Seattle, San Francisco, Minneapolis and Denver, according to a paper by the British historian Keith Snell. Half of all Manhattan dwellings are one-person residences. Snell identified a Midtown Census tract where 94 percent of households comprised a single person.
The 15-minute city for the 15-minute life.
“Living alone can be a dream come true,” said Bella DePaulo, author of the forthcoming book “Single at Heart.”
Solitary living means “you get to curate your own life,” she said. “You decide when to go to sleep and when to get up, what and when to eat, what to watch or to listen to for entertainment, and how warm or cool your place will be.” No more fighting over the thermostat.
No more future.