Volume 44 - Article 11 | Pages 277–306

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

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

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Date received:16 Aug 2019
Date published:09 Feb 2021
Word count:6843
Keywords:Asians, family, household structure, living alone, living arrangements, one-person households


Background: The proportion of young adults living in one-person households (OPHs) has increased remarkably worldwide. Recent literature suggests that socioeconomic development established favorable conditions for individuals to live alone. Few studies have yet examined the complex relationship between contextual-level socioeconomic development, individual-level factors, and living in OPHs.

Methods: We drew data from a subsample of young adults (aged between 20 and 35) from China 1% Population Sample Survey 2005 (ni = 582,139; nj = 345). Two-level random-intercept logistic regression models were employed to examine the relationship between prefecture-level socioeconomic development and living in OPHs. Two series of models, controlling for single and migrant statuses, and other sociodemographic variables, were estimated for male and female separately.

Results: First, there are positive associations between singlehood/migration and living in OPHs. Being single or a migrant are the most important individual-level correlates of living alone. Second, we found a strong positive curvilinear correlation between prefecture-level development and living alone that are well explained by the concentration of internal migrants but not the proportion of singles in the developed regions. Third, after controlling for migrant status, we only found a weak positive contextual effect of development on living alone. Yet, there are cross-level interaction effects that the associations between prefecture-level development and living alone are strong for single and migrant adults.

Contribution: Our findings highlight the relative importance of internal migration over singlehood in explaining the concentration of OPHs in developed areas, which has important implications on the geographical patterns of OPHs among young adults.

Author's Affiliation

Adam Ka-Lok Cheung - Hong Kong Baptist University, China [Email]
Wei-Jun Jean Yeung - National University of Singapore, Singapore [Email]

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

» Living Alone: One-person households in Asia
Volume 32 - Article 40

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