Living alone












Living alone
In 2015, 7.7 million people in UK households lived alone, of which 4.1 million were aged

16 to 64. Of those in this age group, the majority (58%) were male.



Possible reasons for more men living alone at this age include: higher proportions of men than

women never marrying, men marrying at older ages than women and marrying women younger

than themselves, and partnership dissolution leading to men living alone while women may live with

any children from the relationship. Further studies by academics looking at living arrangements

in mid-life can be found on the Centre for Population Change website.






For those aged 65 to 74, and 75 and over, the pattern is reversed; at these ages

the majority of people living alone were female (61% and 72% respectively).

This is partly because there are more women than men in the total population aged

65 and over due to women’s higher life expectancy. By the age of 65 most women have

been married1, and husbands are typically older than their wives. These 2 factors accentuate

the gap in life expectancy between husbands and wives and mean that more women than

men become widowed, which may lead to living alone. In spite of this, the number of

widowed women is falling due to life expectancy increasing faster for men compared to women.

Figure 9 shows the trends in the number of people living alone by age group between 2005 and

2015. The largest change is in the 45 to 64 age group, where the number of people living alone

increased by 23% between 2005 and 2015, a statistically significant change. This is partly

due to the increasing population aged 45 to 64 in the UK over this period, as the

1960s baby boom generation have been reaching this age group.

The increase could also be due to a rise in the proportion of the population aged 45 to

64 who are divorced or single never married.

In contrast, the number living alone in the 25 to 44 age group fell by 18% between

2005 and 2015; this was a statistically significant change. Figure 6 presented within

this bulletin shows that the number of those aged 15 to 34 living with their

parents has increased over the past 2 decades. Affordability of moving out of

the parental home has been cited as a possible factor in this increase. In addition,

academic research2 has illustrated that there has been a shift towards sharing

with others outside a family among young adults.

The number living alone in the 16 to 24 age group decreased by 9% over the decade

2005 to 2015; this decrease is not statistically significant. The estimated number of

16 to 24 year olds who are living alone has fluctuated over the time period.

These individuals could be affected by policy changes such as the introduction of

Universal Credit and the benefit cap, raising of school leaving age to 18 in

20153 and in the future, changes to housing benefit for those aged 18 to 21

announced in the July Budget 20154.

Those aged 65 to 74 living alone saw a statistically significant increase of 22% over

the decade. The number living alone aged 75 and over also increased over the decade

to 2015, this was by a smaller percentage of 5% which was not a statistically significant change.

Further analysis of those living alone based on 2011 Census data, including looking at their

ethnicity and tenure can be found on our website.



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