Single-Person Households in Europe: the Swedes live alone

We hear about it nearly every day: the number of single-person households is increasing. And a look at Eurostat figures confirms this – the number of single-person households has indeed grown continuously over the past decade. The only exceptions are Ireland, Belgium, and Croatia. The share of single-person households has remained stable in Ireland, and has actually decreased slightly in Belgium and in Croatia.
In the near future, this share will grow even further, especially in densely populated urban areas. The increase of single-person households will also change demand patterns. Effects of these developments will be visible for example in changes in package sizes at supermarkets, apartment sizes, kitchen equipment, etc.
When it comes to single-person households, there are noticeable differences within Europe, both along north-south and east-west lines. In Sweden, Norway, and Germany, the share of these households is above 40%, whereas in Poland and Slovakia, but also in Portugal, it is still only slightly above 20%. Strikingly low figures can be found in Turkey, but there the figure has nearly doubled in the past decade.
There are also significant differences within individual counties when it comes to urban and rural areas. For example, the share of single-person households in Vienna is nearly twice as high as in Upper Styria. Even more dramatic differences may be found in Germany. In Munich the share of single-person households is more than twice as high as in the region of Straubing-Bogen just to the north. The east-west comparison is also interesting in Germany. In the so-called “new federal states”, the share of single-person households has grown faster than in the west, and was markedly higher in 2014.