How many people are in your household? How many people were in your household when you grew up as a child? Those numbers are trending down.
But what does that mean? New York Times columnist David Brooks recently discussed the trend of smaller households, in conjunction with the book, “Going Solo,” by Eric Klinenberg.
What Klinenberg’s research shows is that more people are living alone than, say, 30 or 40 years ago. In fact, there are more single-person households than married-with-children households. In cities such as Atlanta, Denver and Washington, more than 40 percent of the households are one-person dwellings. In Manhattan (New York), that number rises to 50 percent.
A few years ago, more people affiliated with a major political party. Now, more register as independent. More people worked for big companies and/or were part of unions. That type of employment is also down.
As Brooks quotes these figures from Klinenberg, there is a lot to digest about what we have become, and will become. We are less likely to join groups, in the traditional sense, and more likely to connect on social networks online, at our own pace and in our own time.
We’ll have more entrepreneurs than employees. The reason the traditional job is falling out of favor is not only that companies are downsizing, but also that working for a company – pigeon-holed into a specific job, schedule or lifestyle – may not work for the individualists that we have become. Getting married seems old school, but it’s more than that. Marriage creates obligations, which can limit one’s flexibility in a fast-changing world. People may still love, without marrying, to the chagrin of some.
In recent times, which Klinenberg and Brooks didn’t measure, we have seen more young adults still living their parents because they were out of work, or faced some other economic catastrophe. One would suspect that most hate that arrangement, and will “Go Solo” as soon as they are able.
INDEPENDENTS AND CHOICES
Speaking of political parties, the irony is overwhelming. One side of the debate wants people to be more “self-reliant,” and take more “personal responsibility,” while at the same time limiting the choices those people have in some areas. The other side of the debate is all for having more choices, but wants to steer people into more collectives.
Let’s take that argument a step further. We do not want people to choose to be a criminal, but we must take great care in determining what acts constitute criminality. People crave freedom, but at the same time despise inequality. People love security, but one pays a price – in some freedoms – for security.
The bottom line is that households are getting smaller. It may not just be a youth phenomenon, since many of the single-person households are older, widows or widowers. They look for a life with fewer obligations, more opportunities, fewer constraints and more pleasure.
People are taking more responsibility. They are becoming more individual. They are forgoing the comfort of groups for the opportunity to “Go Solo.” Of course, there is a happy medium. What if you could be in business for yourself, but not BY yourself? What if you could get the help you need to make a fortune, from others with a vested interest in your success? If that intrigues you, visit www.bign.com/pbilodeau. Whether you “Go Solo” or not, you may find something there that will fit your life – not disrupt it.
We love independence, and, using Klinenberg’s data, it shows. Let us go forth and prosper, seeking help when we need it but doing most of the heavy lifting on our own. Let us have the choices available to make that journey the best it can be.