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The Damaging Rise of Single Households

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Perhaps the most puzzling social change of recent decades involves the dramatic upsurge in Americans living alone. In 1900, only 5 percent of households featured a single person; today, a stunning 27 percent of American households consist of an isolated individual.

Aside from the loss in intimate and communal connection, this situation contributes to our economic and even environmental problems.  A person living alone consumes far more resources than a couple sharing meals, energy and space. Moreover, the rise in one-person households helps explain the lack of improvement in household income: with more people opting to live alone and survive on a single income, it’s not surprising that household earning remains stagnant.

Marriage confers advantages that “singletons” rarely duplicate: for instance, households with married mothers show median income of $80,000, while single mother households manage barely $20,000 a year.

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Comments (12)

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  1. george  •  Sep 18, 2013 at 2:18 pm

    Living alone is not analogous loss of intimacy, community, and/or being isolated…..

    • Michael  •  Sep 20, 2013 at 2:48 pm

      Noboday said it was analogous, but it does increase the loss the intimacy, community, etc…

  2. American  •  Sep 19, 2013 at 12:12 am

    The “progressive” cultural Marxist Democrats have decimated the family as was their goal.

  3. Rolf  •  Sep 19, 2013 at 12:20 pm

    I know almost no one my age (over 50) who was and is still married. For men contemplating a family there is the stark realization that one is likely to dehoused, fleeced and to lose one*s children.

    • JGUY  •  Sep 26, 2013 at 7:30 pm

      Unfortunate and true.

  4. Mike Kailing  •  Sep 20, 2013 at 10:46 pm

    My personal experience and with observation of others give me reason to conclude the following: married life and its purposes have been lost, unity destroyed, varied interests of the different generations, lack of parental authority and respect; the list is endless. Living as a solo individual eliminates the cause of such family strife: no arguments, no disparaging words, personality conflicts eliminated, peace, quiet, serenity, ability to choose specific friends for social interaction, freedom to choose who enters your home; this list is endless. Mental health decreases with marital conflicts; harmony is lacking among family members in strife. I can see, experience, and greatly understand the reason solo living is much more appealing: painful relationships cease; choice is returned; peace and quiet is maintained. Sad to say, the conflicts we hear in the news of husband/wife battles are filling family courts; marriage seminars desperately attempt to reconcile marital strife. We rarely hear of friendship seminars – they aren’t necessary. There are reasons individuals choose to live alone and walk with the people of their choice. Think about it…I invite your response and/or rebuttal. By the way, I live a happy single life. Aloha from Hawaii, a man with very good friends. ~ brother mike

  5. Dave  •  Sep 22, 2013 at 10:19 am

    If one cannot obtain a job no matter how much they prepare themselves that would provide enough income to support a family, then by default, assuming said individual is engaging in financial responsibilty, the person will be largely stuck living single.

  6. Bob Meyer  •  Sep 22, 2013 at 11:55 am

    Apparently, for Medved, any societal deviation from the mythical 1950’s norm is another step on the way to the destruction of civilization.

    While it is true that household income is down in part because the number of people in a household is down, it is also true that median individual income is down. This is primarily because the economic policies supposedly for the benefit of the poor and middle class are based on Keynesian-Malthusian economics which have been repeatedly shown to stifle economic growth and redistribute money from the middle class to the wealthy.

    A responsible person establishes a secure life for himself or herself before seeking a long term relationship and children. Ill-conceived government policies make job prospects poor for many people who respond by not taking on responsibilities for which they have no capacity to fulfill. The unemployment rate of recent college graduates is exceptionally high which accounts for the large number of young people that have moved back in with their parents. I wonder how Medved reconciles this with the increase in people living alone.

    Mistaking prudence in a period of slow economic growth for culturally induced individual isolation serves only to produce an erroneously pessimistic view of people and culture.

  7. Kathleen  •  Sep 23, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    “Marriage confers advantages that “singletons” rarely duplicate: for instance, households with married mothers show median income of $80,000, while single mother households manage barely $20,000 a year.”

    Are you kidding me!?? Maybe, just maybe, that statistic shows that uneducated, unskilled women are more likely to wind up single and pregnant!

    Seriously, someone owes you a refund on your education. That’s how pitiful your reasoning skills are. It’s OK though, they can improve (along with your salary) with education.

    • beakt  •  Sep 23, 2013 at 6:06 pm


      What’s your point? The tone of your comment implies you disagree with the statement from the article, but your own statement about being uneducated or unskilled seems to support the idea that marriage is a virtue.

  8. TMG  •  Sep 29, 2013 at 8:16 pm

    Perhaps, but conservatives abdicated the culture war to the anti-family Feminists decades ago.

  9. Falcon  •  Mar 21, 2014 at 2:49 pm

    Meanwhile in Russia they’re growing in Christianity and keepeing their society very strong, so what said Vladimir Putin?.

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