Changes in Household Living Arrangements 1950-76
18 Pages Posted: 15 Feb 2001 Last revised: 21 Sep 2010
Date Written: June 1980
The growth in single-person households is a pervasive behavioral phenomenon in the United States in the post-war period. In this paper we investigate determinants of the propensity to live alone, using 1970 data across states for single men and women ages 25 to 34 and for elderly widows. Income level appears to be a major determinant of the propensity to live alone. The estimated cross-state equations track about three-quarters of the increase in the propensity to live alone between 1950-1976 and suggest that income growth has been the principal identified influence. Other variables found to affect (positively) the propensity to live alone include mobility, schooling level, and for young people a measure of social climate; non-whites appear to have a somewhat lower propensity to live alone.
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