Solo living suits women better than men

Women appear to fare better than men when living alone, a new study suggests.

Researchers at the University say that men living on their own are more likely to experience financial and health difficulties - as well as disadvantages in the housing market - compared with women living alone.

In a two-year study researchers examined differences in standards of living of more than 140 men and women aged 25-44.

Economic disadvantages

The researchers found that a higher proportion of people in a one-person household in Scotland are disadvantaged in terms of finance, health and housing compared with those living with others.

They also found that men living on their own are more likely to feel socially isolated, earn a low income and experience poor health.

Twenty nine per cent of men living on their own aged 25-44 earn less than £10,000 per year, compared with twenty-one per cent of women living alone, according to the most recent Scottish Household Survey.

A higher proportion of women living alone are educated to degree level, in professional jobs and own their property.

Strong social networks

However, researchers found that the majority of those living alone did not feel isolated, even when experiencing economic disadvantages.

The study showed that most solo-living adults had rich social networks and strong ties to their neighbourhood, and that the use of the internet helped maintain these social networks.

Half of the women interviewed and a third of the men interviewed were in a relationship, and for the majority this was likely to be a long-term arrangement where each partner lives alone.

Increase in solo living

A small number of solo-living adults, primarily men, had limited social networks because of factors such as long working hours, health problems and a limited disposable income.

Between the ages of 25-44, men are twice as likely as women to live on their own. The General Registrar Office for Scotland predicts an increase in the proportion of one-person households to 44% in 2031.

With the predicted increase in the proportion of one-person households there are implications for a range of social provision such as income support, pensions, health and housing.

Professor Lynn JamiesonCentre for Research on Families and Relationships

The research was funded by the ESRC.