REPORT: Young women who live on their own are more advantaged than those who don't

A quarter of all Australian households are occupied by just one person, and more often than not, it’s a woman.

According to new demographic research by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, this trend has increased from 8% in 1946 to 24% in 2011 and is in line with global trends.

“The Australian rate of lone households is similar to that of other English-speaking countries like New Zealand (22%) and the United Kingdom (2%) and falls between the high level found in Sweden and Denmark and the lower rates in parts of Asia, Central and South America,” AIFS’ Senior Research Fellow, Professor David de Vaus said.

But more interestingly, researchers found that while some people lived alone for cultural reasons or because of family breakdowns, living alone was often celebrated as a “greater choice” and people excelled because of it.

The research revealed that not only are women more likely to live alone, they are also better off than those who live with others.

Co-author of the paper, AIFS Senior Research Fellow, Dr Lixia Qu says, “younger women who live alone are a socially advantaged group in terms of their education, occupation and incomes”.

“They stand out from women who do not live alone and from men in general in the same age groups. In many respects these young women who live alone are well to-do and have choices,” she said.

“They may live alone because their success provides them with more options which means they do not need to partner or their work and career provide more attractions than partnering and having a family.

“The success of these young women may also reflect an educational and occupational ‘mismatch’ between unattached younger men and women.”

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