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Single in America? You've Got Company

The percentage of adult Americans living by themselves has doubled since 1960, to its highest level ever, and businesses are taking note.
January 26, 2012, 7am PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Eric Klinenberg writes of a dramatic demographic shift over the last 50 years, in which the percentage of married adults has fallen from more than 70% to only 51% of the adult population. "The extraordinary rise of living alone is among the greatest social changes since the baby boom."

In several large cities, including Denver, Seattle, and Washington D.C., more than 40% of households have just one occupant. In Manhattan it is nearly 50%. The implications of this shift are just beginning to be appreciated by businesses and marketers.

"Singletons play an essential yet unappreciated role in revitalizing cities and animating public spaces. Compared with married people, they're more likely to eat out in cafés and restaurants, exercise in a gym, take art classes, attend public events, and volunteer. Perhaps more important, singletons are fueling the economy. They spend more discretionary dollars than their married counterparts."

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Published on Wednesday, January 25, 2012 in Fortune
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