When I was studying social science in the 1990s one of the major trends was more and more people living alone. Academics were extrapolating trends and predicting 30%+ of us would be living alone in the future. They were picturing millions of unhappy people living in tiny apartments with insufficient social contact going quietly mad.
Fortunately that hasn’t happened.
As you can see from the third graph along in picture above (data from Pew Research) the number of 18-34 year olds living alone has been constant for a few years at 14-16%.
Note: This data is for US 18-34 years olds only, but I would be surprised if the trends aren’t the same for all ages and also in the UK.
Instead of living alone many more people are staying with their parents (first graph above). I’m sure that creates challenges of its own, but social isolation is at least less of an issue.
I think this data gives insight into social and retail trends. If you are living alone or with parents you are are:
- More likely to spend time on social media
- More likely to use dating sites
- More likely to value experiences
- More likely to spend money on fashion and other goods which define and display a sense of self
These have all been big growth areas over the last decade.
Going forward it will be interesting to think about how new opportunities and markets play into the trend of more people living with their parents.