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Overview

In 2013, 11 percent of New Zealand’s population, or 355,000 people, lived alone.

Age, marital status, income, household tenure, and ethnicity are the key characteristics that contribute to the likelihood of living alone. Nearly half of people living alone were aged 65 or older. Most of them were separated, divorced, or widowed. People living alone were more likely to own their homes; they were also likely to be women.

In terms of social well-being, living alone has its advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, people who lived alone reported lower life satisfaction and felt lonelier than those who lived with others. On the other, they were less likely to have been victims of crime. Despite our usual perceptions, living alone does not necessarily mean a person is socially isolated. Our findings show that people who lived alone had higher rates of face-to-face contact with family and friends than those who lived with others.

Living alone has implications for the individual and society in general. While many people live alone because they have to (due to personal circumstances such as divorce or the death of a partner), for others it is a lifestyle choice. This report shows that within the single category of ‘living alone’ there is great diversity in people’s socio-economic and demographic characteristics and their social outcomes.

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