authors | December 23, 2012

Alone In America: Eric Klinenberg On The Positives Of Solo Living [VIDEO]

As Eric Klinenberg explains in his new keynote, Americans in the 1950's thought anyone living alone—who wanted to live alone—was "sick, neurotic, and immoral". That stigma has largely subsided, as the number of people who choose to delay marriage and long term relationships has risen sharply. 50 per cent of adults today live in single-family households, Klinenberg says. And, as he explains in the keynote and in his new book, Going Solo, this is one of the biggest changes to the demographics of the population since the baby boom.

In his previous book, Heat Wave, Klinenberg touched on the topic of single living when he wrote about the people who died in isolation during a massive heat wave in Chicago. As he says in his speech, he thought that Going Solo would simply be a continuation of that topic—but he says he soon realized that there was much more to why people lived alone than he first anticipated. Contrary to his initial beliefs, the vast majority of those who live alone (about 33 million people in the United States) are middle-aged. The people who were living alone, he found, were not elderly people who had lost a spouse or those left with no choice but solitary life. Rather, Klinenberg found a population of people who wanted to live alone—reaping the benefits that came with solo life.

"Paradoxically, living alone can give us an opportunity to make better and deeper connections," he says. Those who live on their own have more time to themselves, so they have the ability to get to know themselves and what they want out of life. This, he says, tends to lead to more significant long-term relationships down the road. There are many factors that have attributed to this shift, Klinenberg explains, and they have a tremendous impact on the socio-economic structure of the country. As the nuclear family moves far away from the norm, and single living becomes more commonplace, Klinenberg shares the broad implications that this will have on our society. Whether it's in his books, his columns for major news outlets, or his eye-opening talks, he shares this new way of living—one that brings exciting opportunities and possibilities for all of us.

Up Next

environment | December 20, 2012