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Key findings

Although the number of people living alone in New Zealand has steadily increased since 1986 (from 204,000 to 355,000 people in 2013), the proportion has changed little since 2001.

Age, marital status, household tenure, and ethnicity are some of the key characteristics of people who live alone.

  • Majority (63 percent) of people who lived alone were divorced, separated, or widowed.
  • In 2013, the median age of people living alone was 62 years. In comparison, the median age for the total population was 38.
  • Living alone was more common for women than men: women made up 57 percent of those living alone.
  • Pacific peoples and Asians were less likely to live alone than people of other ethnicities.
  • Six out of 10 (62 percent) people who lived alone owned or partly owned their own home. In comparison, only 50 percent of those who lived with others owned or partly owned their own home.

Living alone has advantages and disadvantages in terms of social well-being.

  • People living alone (59 percent) were less likely than those living with others (64 percent) to report an overall life satisfaction rating between 8 and 10 on a scale of 0 to 10 (0 is the lowest and 10 the highest level of satisfaction).
  • People who lived alone were more likely than those not living alone to say they had felt lonely, at least occasionally, in the last four weeks (50 percent compared with 34 percent). This was true for both men and women regardless of age.
  • People who lived alone had higher levels of face-to-face contact with family living in other households (61 percent) than those not living alone (51 percent).
  • People who lived alone were less likely to be victims of crime: 11 percent of those who lived alone had been the victim of crime in the last 12 months, compared with 14 percent of those living with others.
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