We're Living Alone These Days

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    This is an interesting development:

    Single-person households surpass married with kids

    A century ago, fewer than six percent of all households consisted of people who lived alone.

    By 2013, that percentage has jumped to 28 percent, with single-person households now making up the second most common household type just behind married couples without minor children (at 29 percent), according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

    What’s more, single households have now surpassed married households with minor children (19 percent).

    These single households – once mostly dominated by men – have shifted to a rise in the number of women living alone. Women now head 54 percent of all single-person households.

    “In the past, when living alone might have been a short-term condition, for many it is now a long-term situation, the result of a number of broad demographic and economic forces at work over the past half century: greater affluence, longer lives, later ages of marriage, higher divorce, smaller family sizes, greater labor force participation and financial independence of women, and stronger government safety nets across a wide spectrum of social programs,” wrote George Masnick, senior research fellow at The Harvard Joint Center of Housing Studies.

    In large cities, single person households account for 45 percent of all households. Some neighborhoods in Manhattan and Washington, D.C., in particular, have single-person households that approach two-thirds of its households.



    Kids are expensive and we don’t pay family wages. It is that simple.


    Years ago, I worked in a company where one of the cafeteria cashiers was a woman from Guatemala who was in her early 20s. She once stated that she wanted to have five children.

    By contemporary United States standards, this is a large family. I was a bit curious why she wanted a family of that size, and I said something like, “it would be very expensive to raise a family that large.” However, she insisted that she wanted exactly five children.

    I never really figured out her motivations, but I suspect that:

    • She probably had come from a family with five children, and she was trying to fulfill some kind of cultural imperative that she grow up to be like her mother.
    • Raising children in Guatemala to Guatemalan standards doesn’t cost as much as raising children in the US to US standards.
    • In Guatemala, there might be more participation from the extended family in raising children, thus taking some of the hands-on and financial burden off the parents.

    A large family can do very well when combined with some business.

    Many developing nations favor that norm.

    All of my kids are citing lack of gainful employment as reason to not marry and start families. Well, one is just not sure she is living where she wants to. Her income is good for her age.

    The others really struggle. Of course we help in many ways, including helping to network. Many of my adult friends are willing to mentor kids and I’m doing that for some of theirs.

    We really don’t have the same overall opportunity for them as most of us had.

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