Volume 32 - Article 40 | Pages 1099–1112  

Living Alone: One-person households in Asia

By Wei-Jun Jean Yeung, Adam Ka-Lok Cheung

This article is part of the Special Collection 15 "Living Alone: One-person households in Asia"


Background: The one-person household (OPH) is the fastest-growing type of household in many regions of the world, but no systematic work on it has been done outside of Europe and North America. This special collection consists of ten articles that examine the living-alone phenomenon in Asia.

Objective: This paper summarizes their findings, highlights unique features found in Asia, and discusses the implications of the increase in OPH in Asia for individuals’ well-being and societies’ resource distribution.

Methods: Census data are used for an international comparison of the prevalence of one-person households.

Results: The papers reveal vast heterogeneity across regions and within nations. While widows remains a major group of OPH, the rising prevalence of OPH in Asia is mainly fueled by the increase of young urban adults who live alone as a consequence of delayed or declining marriage, increasing divorce, and increasing geographic mobility. Many of them are working class individuals or migrant workers. The impact of living alone varies by cultural, demographic, and policy contexts. The papers identify groups that are potentially vulnerable to social isolation and financial distress and challenge the generally negative stereotypes of the OPH living arrangement.

Conclusions: OPH will continue to increase in Asia in the next few decades due to the rapid aging trend, declining marriage and fertility rates, and increase in divorce and migration. More theoretical development and empirically-based work is needed to understand the complexity and impact of such a living arrangement.

Author's Affiliation

Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research

Temporal-spatial patterns of one-person households in China, 1982-2005
Volume 32 - Article 44

Socioeconomic development and young adults’ propensity of living in one-person households: Compositional and contextual effects
Volume 44 - Article 11