Living alone has become a norm in many developed countries, including Japan and South Korea. The number of single-person households is increasing rapidly, with Japan’s figure likely to exceed 40% of all households soon. This trend is not limited to these two countries but is observed globally.
I live in Singapore, where we are also currently facing an aging population crisis that might affect the way we live. Although our country has taken more precautionary steps from having lower economic output by bringing in more foreign talent and increasing the work age limit to 68 in July 2022. Our country will soon have to face the same effect of slower economic output.
Many reasons contribute to the rise of single-person households, including delayed or nonexistent marriage, elderly residents losing their spouses, and more. In this article, we will delve into the implications of this trend on various aspects of society, including the economy, dining, and funeral industry.
The Rise of Single-Person Households
As mentioned, the number of single-person households has been increasing in many developed countries, and Japan and South Korea are at the forefront of this trend. In Japan, the number of single-person households is expected to reach 40% by 2035, according to a report by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.
In South Korea, the figure is already over 30%. This trend is not unique to these countries but is also observed in other developed countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom. It has been widely observed among first-world counties and the pace of the aging population is face growing.
Reasons for the Rise of Single-Person Households
There are several reasons for the rise of single-person households, including:
Delayed or nonexistent marriage
It’s not that the younger generation doesn’t want to get marriages, it’s that they are faced with huge economic burdens. In places like Singapore, it takes over 5 years to save and build up enough capital to simply pay for the downpayment for a mortgage. Coupled with having to pay student loan debt ($20,000 ~ $25,000), engagement ($5,000 up to $100,000), or a car($60,000). That’s too much of a burden on a young couple!
Marriage rates have also been declining in many developed countries, and more people are choosing to stay single. In Japan, for example, a survey by the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research found that around 25% of people aged 50-54 had never been married.
Elderly residents losing their spouses
With an aging population, more elderly people are living alone after the death of their spouse. And the loss of a spouse can have a significant impact on the economic well-being of elderly residents. When a spouse passes away, the surviving spouse may experience a reduction in income due to the loss of their partner’s pension or social security benefits. This reduction in income can be particularly challenging for elderly individuals who may already be living on a fixed income.
Increased life expectancy
People are living longer, and as a result, they are spending more years living alone. While it may sound great and all, it actually has its own downfall. Apart from seeing your loved ones slowly moving on, the older generation becomes more and more separated from the current times.
More people are moving to cities, and the cost of living in urban areas often makes it difficult for people to live with roommates or family members. The younger generation is also not excited about hard labor jobs which their grandfather or predecessor has worked hard on building. That’s why there are many skills in Japan that will be forgotten in the next hundred years.
Implications of the Rise of Single-Person Households
The rise of single-person households has significant implications for various aspects of society, including the economy, dining, and funeral industry.
Impact on the Economy
The rise of single-person households may have negative implications for the economy in the long run. In Japan, for example, spending by grandparents, who played a significant role in supporting consumption, may not repeat. The older generation in Japan, also known as the “silver market,” had a significant impact on the economy. They were the driving force behind many industries, including tourism, healthcare, and consumer goods.
However, with the rise of single-person households, the spending power of this group may decline. This means that younger folks would have to work significantly harder in order to support the older generation.
Businesses need to implement more automation technology
With the rising cost of hiring labor, corporate businesses have started implementing more AI work into their business. While this has helped reduced the business expense significantly, it does greatly affect the younger generation of people looking to find a job since corporate businesses are now having second thoughts on whether hiring someone is actually a better choice for the company.
higher demand for single-bedroom homes
Singapore has seen a significant increase in demand for single-bedroom apartments. They are mostly catered to bachelors and it shows a significant standard of luxury in the living for a person.
Impact on Dining Industry
Businesses are catering to solo diners with offerings like solo grills and finding that table turnover rates are better. Solo dining has become a popular trend, especially in countries like Japan and South Korea, where eating out is a common social activity. With the rise of single-person households, there is an increasing demand for restaurants that cater to solo diners. Businesses are adapting to this trend, offering solo grills and other dining options that cater to single customers.
Impact on Funeral Industry
The rise of single-person households is also bringing sweeping changes to the funeral industry. In South Korea, for example, newer types of natural burials, such as scattering ashes in rivers, sea, and mountains, may become more popular with the rising number of single-person households. With fewer family members to take care of funeral arrangements, there is an increasing demand for simpler and more cost-effective funeral options.
Why are single-person households becoming more common?
There are many reasons for the rise of single-person households, including delayed or nonexistent marriage, changing gender roles, and an aging population.
How is the rise of single-person households impacting businesses?
In Japan and South Korea, businesses are catering to solo diners with offerings like solo grills and finding that table turnover rates are better with solo diners.
Where are we Heading
the loss of a spouse among elderly residents can have significant economic and social implications. It is important for policymakers and healthcare professionals to recognize and address these challenges to ensure that elderly individuals receive the support they need to maintain their quality of life and financial stability.