Numbers never tell the whole story, but in this case the statistics are startling. In 1950, 22 percent of American adults were single. Four million lived alone, and they accounted for 9 percent of all households. In those days, living alone was by far most common in the open, sprawling Western states-Alaska, Montana, and Nevada-that attracted migrant workingmen, and it was usually a short-lived stage on the road to a more conventional domestic life.
Today, more than 50 percent of American adults are single, and 31 million-roughly one out of every seven adults-live alone. (This figure excludes the 8 million Americans who live in voluntary and nonvoluntary group quarters, such as assisted living facilities, nursing homes, and prisons.) People who live alone make up 28 percent of all U.S. households, which means that they are now tied with childless couples as the most prominent residential type-more common than the nuclear family, the multigenerational family, and the roommate or group home. Surprisingly, living alone is also one of the most stable household arrangements. Over a five-year period, people who live alone are more likely to stay that way than everyone except married couples with children.
Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone by Eric Klinenberg