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Purpose

Two’s a crowd: Living alone in New Zealand explores the socio-economic characteristics and social well-being of New Zealanders who live alone, using data from the 1986–2013 Censuses and 2014 New Zealand General Social Survey (NZGSS).

Living alone is a phenomenon that is becoming increasingly common around the world. In many countries like Sweden, the United States, Japan, and the United Kingdom, more than one-quarter of all households have just one resident (Klinenberg, 2012). In New Zealand, the proportion of people who live alone is relatively low in comparison, but the number has been increasing since 1986 and is projected to continue to grow.

Despite the increasing incidence of people living by themselves, we do not yet fully understand why they choose to do so. Increasing numbers of people who live on their own have implications for the well-being of individuals and society as a whole, so there is much interest in understanding who lives alone and why. For the public sector and the service agencies that provide support to those who live by themselves, living alone is a trend of increasing concern and interest. The lifestyle comes with financial inefficiencies that may adversely affect a person’s economic outcomes. People who live alone may also be at greater risk of social isolation, which can have negative impacts on their social outcomes.

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