The Number of People Living Alone In Their 80s and 90s Is Set to Soar
Over the next 20 years, the number of people in their 80s and 90s living alone will dramatically increase, according to research published by Jennifer Molinsky,a senior research associate at Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. Because those living alone at older ages can have greater needs for support in the home as well as fewer resources than similarly-aged couples, the growth in single-person households has implications for family members and policymakers alike.
The first baby boomers will reach age 80 within the decade. By 2038, there will be 17.5 million households in their 80s and over, more than double the 8.1 million in 2018, says Molinsky. These households will also constitute an increasingly larger share of all US households, doubling from 6 percent in 2018 to 12 percent in 2038. As the Joint Center noted in its recent report, Housing America’s Older Adults 2019, the majority of these households will be made up of just a single person.
Most households headed by someone age 65 or over are either married couples living by themselves (37 percent) or single individuals (42 percent). With age, however, the share of solo households increases, reaching 58 percent among those 80 and over. As the baby boomers cross into their 80s over the next 20 years, the numbers of single-person households among the oldest age group will grow dramatically, from 4.7 million households in 2018 to an estimated 10.1 million in 2038 (Figure 1). Read the full report.
FIGURE 1: BY 2038, THE NUMBER OF OLDER HOUSEHOLDS AGE 80 AND OVER IS PROJECTED TO REACH 10.1 MILLION