- NYU professor says singles will soon dominate U.S.
- Eric Klinenberg outlines ideas in ‘Going Solo’ book
- Points to benefits single people bring to economy
By Mark Duell
Last updated at 9:38 PM on 7th February 2012
More than a quarter of American households have just one person living inside and singles will soon dominate the U.S., according to a new book.
Although living in families is a traditional practice almost universal around the world, the book ‘Going Solo’ claims it’s experiencing an effective attack.
New York University expert Eric Klinenberg says singles boost economies because they have more disposable income and more time for others.
Social patterns; New York University sociology professor Eric Klinenberg, right, claims in ‘Going Solo’, left, that the U.S. will soon become dominated by singles
But many often lose out because they receive inferior tax breaks and pay more for insurance compared to married people, reported Newsweek.
Henry David Thoreau tried living by himself in the mid-1800s, when he was still in his twenties, and the result was his famous book ‘Walden’.
The critically-acclaimed work described living alone in the woods. ‘I never found the companion so companionable as solitude,’ Mr Thoreau wrote.
One of four siblings himself, he died unmarried, aged 44, and biographers record one proposal to a young woman that was rejected.
He built his cottage within walking distance of his family in Concord, Massachusetts, and the pubs he and his friends frequented.
It was on property owned by his mentor, Ralph Waldo Emerson. Mr Thoreau’s mother visited often, bearing home-cooked meals.
‘Solitude, once we learn how to use it, does more than restore our personal energy. It also sparks new ideas about how we might better live together’
About 4million Americans were living solo in 1950 and it was up to 31million by 2000, with women outnumbering men 17million to 14million.
‘There are so many different kinds of singles (that) single people have had trouble organising as a political bloc,’ Mr Klinenberg says, reported Newsweek.
‘But there are now so many … it’s hard not to pay attention to them.’
Between 1950 and 2000, another book appeared in 1962 that may become a landmark – Helen Gurley Brown’s ‘Sex and the Single Girl.’
‘She is engaging because she lives by her wits,’ he quoted her as writing of modern women. ‘She is a giver, not a taker, a winner and not a loser.’
‘There are so many different kinds of that single people have had trouble organising as a political bloc. But there are now so many… it’s hard not to pay attention to them’
Mr Klinenberg also collects interviews with older people who choose independent living rather than available alternatives as long as they can.
Most Americans, Europeans and others elsewhere measure life satisfaction in terms of integrity, independence and self-respect, he writes.
More than 11million elderly Americans and 72million Europeans live alone. ‘In the coming decades many millions more will do so,’ he writes.
Though the book, which has generated much debate, is largely concerned with the U.S. it devotes ten pages to solutions innovated in Sweden.
The country’s Nobel Peace Prize winner Alva Myrdal opened a ‘collective house’ in the 1930s with 57 units for single women and single mothers.
‘I never found the companion so companionable as solitude’
Henry David Thoreau
The social planner’s innovative home had a communal kitchen, a nursery and small elevator service to each unit for meal deliveries.
‘Solitude, once we learn how to use it, does more than restore our personal energy,’ Mr Klinenberg concludes in his Penguin Press book.
‘It also sparks new ideas about how we might better live together.’