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Growing ranks of divorced and widowed live alone

More and more people are living alone, most often because they are divorced, separated, or widowed, according to new research by Statistics New Zealand.

In 2013, the number of people living alone who were divorced, separated, or widowed was 204,000 (63 percent of all people who lived alone), up from 133,000 in 1986.

“For these people, living alone was not a choice, but rather a result of circumstances,” social statistics manager Scott Ussher said.

Older women are more likely to live alone, and this can be attributed to the difference in the life expectancy between men and women. In 2012–14, life expectancy at birth was 83.2 years for women and 79.5 years for men.

Research also showed that the number of people living by themselves has been growing. In 2013, there were 355,000 people (11.2 percent of the country’s population) who lived alone, 47,000 more than in 2001.

“People living alone is a relatively recent phenomenon in society but one that is becoming increasingly common,” Mr Ussher said.

In terms of home ownership, 6 out of 10 (62 percent) people who lived alone owned or partly owned their own home. This compared with only 50 percent for those who lived with others.

Read Two’s a crowd: Living alone in New Zealand for more analysis about people living by themselves. Understanding the characteristics and social well-being of people who live alone helps government and other non-government agencies develop appropriate policies and services for these people.

Two’s a crowd used information from the 1986 to 2013 Censuses and the 2014 New Zealand General Social Survey.

Ends

For media enquiries contact: Scott Ussher, Wellington 04 931 4600, info@stats.govt.nz
Authorised by Liz MacPherson, Government Statistician, 2 May 2016

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