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Asia Minute: Single Households on the Rise in Asia

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There’s a trend that’s taking place around the world — a growing number of households occupied by just one person. It’s a pattern that is becoming especially clear in Asia.

Single households have become the most common housing arrangement in South Korea. Recently published government figures show that nearly a third of South Korean households consist of one person.

And single households are growing, that is true across Asia, as well as in many other parts of the world.

In Japan, more than a third of households now consist of a single person, and the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research projects that people living alone will make up nearly 40% of all Japanese households by the year 2040.

Part of this development is because of an aging population, but it also reflects a growing number of young urban adults living alone.

The dynamic has come under study for some time. A paper published four years ago in the professional journal Demographic Research was titled “Living Alone: One-person households in Asia.” Researchers from Singapore and Hong Kong said another factor is increasing divorce rates, and younger people delaying marriage or simply staying single.

But the researchers also found that what they call the “OPH” or “one person household” is a situation that makes a lot of people happy – or as the academics put it in the journal article – their papers “challenge the generally negative stereotypes of the One Person Household living arrangement.”

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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