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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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