How Has the Number of People Living Alone Changed over Time?

According to the US Census, 7.7% of US residents lived alone in 1940 as compared to 26.7% in 2010. One person households increased with each Census since 1940 with the greatest jump occurring in the 1970s. In 1970, 17.6% of Census respondents indicated that they lived alone. By 1980, 22.7% were living alone, an increase of 5.1%.

More facts about living alone:

  • According to the 2010 US Census, North Dakota has the most single occupancy households with 29.3% of its population living alone. Utah has the lowest percentage of solo residents at 17.8%.

  • More women (14.8%) reported living alone than men (11.9%) in the US in 2010.

  • Some studies show an increased incidence of depression in both men and women who live alone as compared to living with others.

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Discussion Comments


I was never lonelier or more depressed than when I was married. Today after 34 years of being a single household, I enjoy it very much and would not consider ever living with someone again.


I have been living alone for years, and I don't have a problem with it. Sometimes I will feel lonely but that soon diminishes after a while, and I'm back to my happy single self again.

But lately, I have been feeling lonely and depressed again when before I seemed to be all right overall with living alone. Maybe this will pass. I've been feeling this way for about a month. I think we do end up missing having somebody to hang with and talk to once in a while. It varies. Each individual is different.


The depression statement is too broad and damning. The older people (50 on up) who live alone seem to be thriving in my experience.


Marriage as we know it today will die out completely by the end of this century, if not earlier. Old habits die hard.

But the process of the demise of marital bliss-- a myth as its best and a pain in the butt at its worst -- is already on its way out.

Living together will give way to open relationships, without the suffocating bondage of 'happy matrimony'. Social clubs and one-night stands will eventually replace this hackneyed institution called marriage.


@anon293854: Are you kidding me? Seriously, I live alone as a 43 year old man. I was married and now divorced, so living alone is heaven.

No more nagging over petty crap, no more complaining that I spend too much time with my buddies, when every weekend she was out shopping with the girls. To hell with that. Living alone is a step in the right direction. There is no depression from living alone. I was depressed when I was married. And when I want to socialize, I go out. I don't need some pain in my butt living with me and telling me how I'm no good or useless. There is no more stress.

There is a distinct difference between living alone and being a shut in. You can live alone and still have an active social life. It amazes me how many of my friends are in relationships they hate just so they can say they aren't alone. No thanks. I am much happier like I am.

It just goes along with the old saying: Women marry men thinking they will change and they don't. Men marry women thinking they won't change and they do.


I would like to see a further breakdown of these numbers to show how many of these single people living alone are men or women, because I am guessing what affected these numbers most is the drastic rise in the divorce rate.


We are social beings, and that is why people live together. No need to be married! That is why people do not want to live alone -- they don't want to be freaking depressed.

You don't have to spend thousands of dollars to do a clinical study to know that people want to live with others. Who wants to live alone for 10 years by themselves? Just thinking of that is depressing. Just ask everyday people for free. There is your study.

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