Living Alone in the USA. A Long-Term Perspective (1850-2015)

David Reher, Universidad Complutense de Madrid
Miguel Requena, Universidad Nacional de EducaciĆ³n a Distancia (UNED)

Recent research has looked at living alone among the elderly both within the context of the developed world and globally from a comparative perspective. To date this research has contributed relatively little to our understanding of patterns of change over time, an issue of major importance for the prediction of future trends. We propose now to look at change over time using a long-term historical perspective on living alone based on rich data from the United States, the country with by far the longest series of micro-census data in the world. Our analysis will be based on available public use manuscript samples of US censuses beginning in the mid-nineteenth century and stretching until the present. It will yield an invaluable long-term perspective, spanning the entire period of economic development and social change that characterized the history of the USA over the past century and one half. Descriptive indicators of the incidence of living alone will be interpreted in terms of important societal, cultural, economic and legislative changes over the period under study. Multivariable analytical techniques will be applied to these data in order to assess both the micro determinants of living alone and how independent variables such as age, sex, education and marital status change over time. The results of this study will enable us to estimate the degree to which change in the United States can be used as a benchmark for patterns of historical change elsewhere, especially when controlling for levels of development.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 201. Living Arrangements and Family Connections