The proportion of Australians living alone has flatlined and real estate prices could be a significant factor, researchers say.
A new analysis of 2011 census data shows almost a quarter (24 per cent) of all Australian households comprise just a single person, and that’s been true since 2001.
The decade-long trend bucks what had been a steady rise in solo living from about the end of World War II, when eight per cent of households were solo dwellers.
Researchers from the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) say a number of factors are likely to blame, including higher real estate prices.
“I think housing affordability, or the availability of the right sort of housing, is likely to be one of the factors slowing it down,” says Professor David de Vaus, a senior research fellow at the AIFS.
He says the pool of people “available” to live alone is also shrinking.
“One of those pools is separated and divorced people and in Australia that’s been stable for the last little while,” Prof de Vaus explains.
“Younger people are studying for longer, well into their 20s, so they’re not going to be able to afford to live alone.
“And husbands are living longer, meaning women are not being widowed as early as they were.”
The analysis also reveals women are slightly more likely than men to live solo.
Younger women who do so tend to be more highly educated, hold down better jobs and have higher incomes.
They often consider solo living a good lifestyle choice that’s flowed from their success.
But the same can’t be said for middle-aged men who live by themselves.
They tend to have relatively low levels of education, are more likely to be in lower income brackets, and tend not to be happy with their solo living arrangements.