The Lavin Agency Speakers Bureau

A speakers bureau that represents the best original thinkers,
writers, and doers for speaking engagements.

Aging Alone: Eric Klinenberg On The Challenges Of Solo Living As A Senior

“If you’re planning on joining the many who have opted to live solo, you’re best off making sure you maintain frequent contact with friends and family,” an excerpt from a recent column in Smithsonian reads. Luckily, according to Eric Klinenberg, many of the estimated 32.7 million Americans currently living alone aren't socially isolated—they are actually more social than their paired counterparts. That's a good thing, considering a new study published in the Smithsonian article showed that “limited contact with others increases a person’s overall risk of death over time.”

As Klinenberg has explained in his numerous media appearances and keynotes, the mental and medical effects of this massive shift to more single households are complex. He doesn't believe that this trend of “going solo” (which is also the title of his popular book) means that society is crumbling. However, he is quick to note that this living situation is not without its own set of shortcomings. It's one thing to live alone when you are healthy and successful, but what happens when you get old or sick with a limited income? For people who live alone and don't have solid support groups, Klinenberg says we as a society need to work harder to ensure these people are taken care of.

This is especially true of the elderly solo dwellers. There are approximately 11 million seniors over the age of 65 living alone today—a number Klinenberg says will continue to grow. Those who are affluent can afford to reside in assisted living communities where one can live alone, yet still have access to social programs, support systems, and medical care. However, many seniors do not have the money to access these extremely expensive residences. “We haven't thought about how to make assisted living facilities that are really high quality and pleasurable into places that most people can access,” Klinenberg says in a recent interview. “I think until we do, we'll have a real crisis on our hands.” Since so many more of us are choosing to go it alone, it's crucial that we address these concerns now—before the situation gets out of hand.

Real Life Is More Like Mad Men Than Father Knows Best: Eric Klinenberg

Even though more Americans are living alone than ever before, sociology speaker Eric Klinenberg says that the country is actually lagging far behind many other places in the world when it comes to the rise of solo living. In a recent interview, the Going Solo author unpacks the common misconceptions surrounding the growing trend of single person households. He explains that many people believe the rise of the singleton (a person who is single and also lives alone) can be attributed to the value placed on individualism and capitalism in America. However, he explains that America was one of the last countries to see a spike in single living. Many places in Europe (Scandinavia, for example) have much larger proportions of single households than North America—and those countries are actually known for their communal policies and social democracy.

Klinenberg also argues that the belief that single people are narcissistic or lonely doesn't jive with reality, either. In fact, singles are often more likely to volunteer and be engaged in the community than their married counterparts. He also disagrees with the idea that an increase in individual living coincides with a decline in society. “I trust the sociology in Mad Men more than in Father Knows Best,” he adds. He doesn't think that the idealized familial norm of the 1950s and 60s was all it was cracked up to be, and that we are romanticizing a period that wasn't as perfect in reality as it seems in myth. “I'm just very skeptical of the idea that we should look at these changes as a sign of decline,” he says. “It seems to me that these are changes, and they are profound changes, but we still don't quite know what they mean and the book is really an attempt to think that out.”

“I'm interested in getting rid of the idealizations on either side,” he also points out. The research presented in his book and his keynotes may appear to some as a disheartening trend and, to others, a highly optimistic one. Married life has its problems just as solo living does, and no one way of living is better that the other. He says that it's important to be realistic, and look at all the reasons why this change is occurring. We also need to adapt public policy to coincide with those changes to ensure everyone—alone or in a family—has the ability to live a happy and successful life.

Living Alone—In Style: Eric Klinenberg On Luxury Real Estate For Singles

More people in the United States currently live alone than ever before in history, according to New York University professor and Lavin speaker Eric Klinenberg. As the Going Solo author has said before, the impact of this rapidly growing trend is starting to permeate into many different industries (most recently, into the real estate sector). “Luxury homes designed for one—or bachelor and bachelorette pads, as they're often called—may be the hottest thing in the singles scene,” a new article in The Wall Street Journal reads. Citing Klinenberg's research as an explanation for this increase, the article profiles several singles living in big cities who are investing large sums of money into their homes for one.

This trend further correlates with Klinenberg's work as it proves that people are not only living alone, but are doing so by choice. Not only that, but these people are embracing their single status—and expect builders and realtors to find them homes that reflect that. Many buildings are being designed or upgraded “with amenities to make the building more social and fun,” Klinenberg says. Gyms, dog-walking services, and large mailrooms are among some of the features popping up in many buildings to promote increased social interaction between tenants.

While the article also notes that many of these singles eventually move in with someone, there is a huge demand for single-person dwellings—regardless of how long they stay. What's more, because so many people are looking for solo-dwellings, the resell value almost always ensures a positive return on investment. As Klinenberg details in his books and his keynotes, the rise of single living has broad implications that extend even beyond those who are living alone. It is the biggest demographic shift since the baby boom—and Klinenberg gives audiences the knowledge to take advantage of those changes.

Why Are More Of Us Choosing To Live Alone? Eric Klinenberg In Smithsonian

“If we once worried about isolation, today, more and more critics are concerned that we’re overconnected,” Eric Klinenberg tells Smithsonian Magazine. “So in a moment like this, living alone is one way to get a kind of restorative solitude, a solitude that can be productive, because your home can be an oasis from the constant chatter and overwhelming stimulation of the digital urban existence.” Perhaps that's part of the reason that approximately 28 per cent of the American population chooses to live alone. The author of Going Solo, Klinenberg has been extensively studying one of the largest social and demographic shifts since the baby boom. Named by TIME magazine as the #1 Idea That is Changing Your Life, Going Solo explains a sweeping sociological shift that before now, hasn't really been identified. It has affected almost every single one of us, even though living alone “doesn’t exist as a social identity” in mainstream society. At least not yet.

Klinenberg identifies four key factors that he thinks has attributed to the startlingly sharp increase of single households: the rise of women, the communication revolution, urbanization, and the longevity revolution. Since women entered the workforce, there has less economic pressure to get married or stay in a marriage and more opportunity to support themselves and buy their own homes. Secondly, the rise of communication has made it easier to stay connected with those around you without having to live with them—something that prevents singles from becoming isolated if they choose to live alone. Cities are also being developed to encourage solo living, as dense urban environments provide plenty of opportunities for singles to socialize outside of their immediate neighborhood or home. Finally, the elderly are experiencing a huge spike in solo-living because one spouse often outlives the other, leaving the remaining partner to live in the same home, only alone.

As he explains in his book and in his talks, living alone isn't necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it can be a positive phenomenon, and social policies should not only reflect, but support, this trend. This change affects not only the single-dwellers themselves, but also cities and communities as a whole. “It seems to me,” Klinenberg says in the interview, “that this is a social condition that’s here to stay.” And, if cities like Stockholm (where more than 50 per cent of the residents live alone) are any indication, it's a trend that will only get bigger and more prominent over time.

Make Solo Living More Financially Feasible: Eric Klinenberg In The Economist

Some people believe that the rise in solo living points to the decaying of civil society. Eric Klinenberg, author of the breakthrough book Going Solo, disagrees. In fact, he argues that more people are choosing to live alone than ever before—and they're enjoying the independence that comes along with it. The Economist recently profiled Klinenberg's groundbreaking research, and documented the positive by-products of living alone. Young people, for example, see the move to a single person household as a right of passage they need to experience before settling down. It's a sign of accomplishment that shows their ability to make it on their own. Further, solo living has become especially prominent in elderly populations. Thanks to increasing life expectancies, people are living longer than ever before—many of whom without partners.

This enormous social shift has broad social and economic implications. It affects not only the solo dwellers themselves, but also the way we run our cities and how we decide which public policy initiatives need to be put on the agenda. Large metropolises, for example, tend to favor the young, single professional as they both work and play hard—stimulating local culture and the economy. As more people choose to live independently, there needs to be more effective support structures in place to make that lifestyle choice a more financially feasible one. It is much easier to live on your own when you are a young, healthy, and financially secure person. However, there are few affordable solutions for the older population who require assisted living arrangements and are no longer employed. Affordable housing and the increased availability of assisted-living facilities needs to be addressed, Klinenberg says, because more of us than ever are going to need these options. In his talks, he expands on these ideas to help audiences understand the far-reaching consequences of this trend, and how it will affect their lives going forward.

Alone, Together: Eric Klinenberg On Rising Global Rates Of Single Living

If you live alone—by your own choosing—you're in good company. As Eric Klinenberg points out in his book Going Solo, about one in seven Americans live alone, which amounts to 31 million people. Of those people, 50% are also single. 50 years ago, only 22% of the population was single and a mere four million lived alone. The rise in solo living has become one of the fastest growing social trends of the last half century.

If you thought that those numbers seemed high, just compare them to the number of single households in other countries around the world. In an article in the UK's Daily Mail, it's noted that the number of single-person households in the United States is much lower than in countries like Germany, France, and the UK. Scandinavia leads the pack with 47% of its residents living alone (and in Stockholm, 60%). What's even more interesting, is that many of these people have chosen to live on their own. “Today’s young singletons actively reframe living alone as a mark of distinction and success, not social failure,” Klinenberg says.

As a society, we have begun to place a greater value in our independence. Klinenberg notes that even elderly people who have to be moved to special homes fight to maintain their level of independence for as long as possible. And, it seems that the rise of the singleton isn't a trend that will be dying down any time soon. “At this point in history,” he writes, “it’s clear that living alone will be an enduring feature of the contemporary developed world.” In his keynotes, Klinenberg expands on points made in his book. He explores how this trend is changing our cities, and our relationships with everyone around us.

Savage Love: Eric Klinenberg Gives Dan Savage Some Advice on Singlehood

Relationships can be tricky, and sometimes even the most sought-after love gurus need some advice from time-to-time. Eric Klinenberg, author of the popular book Going Solo recently shared his insights with well-known relationship advice columnist Dan Savage (of Savage Love). In the column, a reader wrote in inquiring as to why his friends and family couldn't accept that he had no interest in settling into a long-term relationship and preferred his own company to that of a romantic partner. Klinenberg explained that this man's experience was far more typical than he might think. “In recent decades,” Klinenberg says, “young adults have been the fastest growing group of American singletons. They're delaying marriage and spending more years single. Moreover, they increasingly recognize the fact that over their long lives, they're likely to cycle in and out of different situations: alone, together; together, alone.”

This seismic shift in lifestyle that Klinenberg presents was named as the #1 Idea That is Changing Your Life by TIME Magazine. “We've come a long way in our attitudes about sex and relationships,” he writes in the column. “Now that living alone is more common than living with a spouse and two children, isn't it time we learned to respect the choice to go solo, too?” We can do this, he says, by thinking critically about the negative stereotypes associated with being single and realizing that many of them are untrue. People who choose not to be coupled up tend to be more social and active in their communities than their married counterparts, Klinenberg points out—thus disproving the belief that singles are often selfish, isolated and anti-social.

Klinenberg is a professor of Sociology at New York University. In addition to Going Solo, he has also written two other books: Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago and Fighting for Air: The Battle to Control America's Media. In his writing and speeches he dissects the biggest societal changes of our times. He explains that solo living is one of the biggest lifestyle shifts we have seen in decades, and that the effects of this change impact our personal lives, our families, our cities, and our economy.

The Cult of the Individual: New Yorker Reviews Eric Klinenberg’s Book

The #1 most popular article at The New Yorker this week is “Why Are So Many Americans Single?”—a review of Eric Klinenberg's new book, Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone. The magazine writes that despite society's stereotypical image of loners (with their “taint of loserdom”), “Klinenberg’s research suggests that our usual perceptions about life alone get things backward. Far from being a mark of social abandonment, the solo life tends to be a path for moving ahead, for taking control of one’s circumstances.”

Single living is a trend that's here to stay: “Klinenberg’s data suggested that single living was not a social aberration but an inevitable outgrowth of mainstream liberal values. Women’s liberation, widespread urbanization, communications technology, and increased longevity—these four trends lend our era its cultural contours, and each gives rise to solo living.”

It makes sense that more people are flying solo, and that they’re happy to do it. In fact, it’s what we have been taught to do: 

Klinenberg calls it “the cult of the individual”—[it] may be the closest  thing American culture has to a common ideal, and it’s the premise on which a lot of single people base their lives. If you’re ambitious and you’ve had to navigate a tough job market, alone can seem the best way to approach adulthood. Those who live by themselves are light on their feet (they’re able to move as the work demands) and flexible with their time (they have no meals to come home for). They tend to be financially resilient, too, since no one else is relying on their income. They are free to climb.

In his talks, Eric Klinenberg discusses the broad implications of this new trend toward solo living as it affects, disrupts, and creates new opportunities in various industries.

Eric Klinenberg: Millions of People, Living Alone, Are Changing Society

Eric Klinenberg's new book, Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone, uncovers the biggest societal shift that no one is talking about—the dominance of single person living. In Time's 2012 Ideas That Are Changing Your Life Issue,  Klinenberg's research was listed first. In an interview with PBS, Klinenberg outlines just how important this change is. In 1950, 22% of American adults were single as opposed to 50% today, four million Americans lived alone compared to today's 31 million (that's one out of every seven people), and single person homes accounted for only 9% of all households compared to 28% today. The cascading effects of this demographic shift affect everything from the shape of our cities to the trajectory of our personal lives to the future of our economy. Certain businesses and industries, such as real estate, are already undergoing tremendous changes and growth.

Another area of economic growth that is being fueled by the move to solo living is the hospitality industry in urban centers. Here's Klinenberg, talking to PBS, on why living alone doesn't mean being alone:

“People who live alone, whether they're 30 or 40 or 75, are actually more likely than people who are married to spend time with friends and with neighbors, to go out in the city and spend time and money in bars and restaurants and cafes. They're more likely to go to public events. They're even more likely to volunteer in civic organizations. So we shouldn't get carried away with the idea that living alone means being isolated.”

In far-reaching and customizable keynotes, Klinenberg breaks down our half-century journey towards a more single society, outlining how various groups and industries can adapt to, realign, and make the most of our society's love affair with solo living. This seismic change, he reminds us, is here to stay.