Volume 40 - Article 55 | Pages 1645–1670  

The educational gradient of living alone: A comparison among the working-age population in Europe

By Glenn Sandström, Lena Karlsson


Background: In recent decades, the proportion of individuals in Western countries living in a one-person household has increased. Previous research has mainly focused on the increase among the elderly and younger segments of the population, and there is a lack of research regarding the characteristics of individuals living alone among the working-age population.

Objective: The aim of this study is to examine the educational gradient of living alone in the working-age population (aged 30–64 years) in a comparative perspective and to assess if the differences in the educational gradient are related to the level of gender equality in different European societies.

Methods: Using data on 12 European countries from the Generations and Gender Surveys, the estimated probabilities of living alone for men and women with different levels of education were calculated using logistic regression models while controlling for parental status and differences in the age distribution across different populations.

Results: In the more gender equal countries, we found a negative educational gradient of living alone, especially for men, with decreasing gender differences in the probability of living alone as education increases. In the less gender equal countries, women tend to live alone to a higher extent than men regardless of their educational level. In the least gender equal countries, we found a positive educational gradient of living alone most markedly among women. Here we found the lowest probability of living alone among those who had received only a primary education and the highest levels among men and women with university degrees. Thus, we found a shift in the educational gradient of living alone from a negative gradient in the most gender equal countries in Northern Europe to a positive gradient in the least gender equal countries in the South and in Eastern Europe.

Contribution: This study highlights differences in living alone for men and women in the working-age population in Europe across different levels of education.

Author's Affiliation

Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research

A reversal of the socioeconomic gradient of nuptiality during the Swedish mid-20th-century baby boom
Volume 37 - Article 50

Indigenous life expectancy in Sweden 1850-1899: Towards a long and healthy life?
Volume 28 - Article 16

Most recent similar articles in Demographic Research

Are highly educated partners really more gender egalitarian? A couple-level analysis of social class differentials in attitudes and behaviors
Volume 50 - Article 34    | Keywords: attitudes, couple analysis, education, educational level, gender, gender roles, housework, social class differentials

The intergenerational transmission of migration capital: The role of family migration history and lived migration experiences
Volume 50 - Article 29    | Keywords: childhood, emigration, Europe, immigration, life course

Housework time and task segregation: Revisiting gender inequality among parents in 15 European countries
Volume 50 - Article 19    | Keywords: cross-national comparison, gender, housework

Measuring the educational gradient of period fertility in 28 European countries: A new approach based on parity-specific fertility estimates
Volume 49 - Article 34    | Keywords: education, Europe, period fertility, quantum, tempo, total fertility rate (TFR)

A Bayesian model for the reconstruction of education- and age-specific fertility rates: An application to African and Latin American countries
Volume 49 - Article 31    | Keywords: age, Bayesian analysis, education, fertility estimation, fertility rates