Living Alone in Later Life: A Global Perspective

The prevalence of living alone during later life varies widely throughout the world. This living arrangement, more widespread among women than men aged over 65, is one of the most visible characteristics of societal aging currently underway. Explaining residential options among older persons and the different strategies implemented in societies of diverse cultural and historical traditions with different levels of development, has important implications for our understanding and management of aging. Most of the research has concentrated on the developed world as it is there that levels of single living during later life tend to be highest as a result of the decline of intergenerational co-residence and the increase of solitary living among elderly people. Less attention has been paid to the developing world owing to a lack of adequate data and lower levels of living alone. This paper examines living alone among the elderly based on a large set of countries covering much of the world.