Education and living alone

The Age this morning reports on research by David de Vaus and Sue Richardson on living alone. Though the economic incentives are to share – especially as governments bias more policies against singles – living alone is becoming more common. The proportion of people living alone increased from 11.9% in 1996 to 13% in 2006.

As de Vaus and Richardson note, educational disparities between men and women are part of the explanation. The tables in the paper make it a little hard to see what’s going on, as they report different groups as a % of the living alone. It is clearer when we look at the numbers of people in the different groups.

Source: ABS Census 2006

As you can see from the figures, large numbers of men who did not finish school are living alone in the 20-49 age group, with a cumulative surplus of 81,000 men who finished school in years 10 or 11. For people in their 50s, the numbers are more even.

For university graduates, the gender disparity isn’t as large, but it is the other way around. Women with degrees living along outnumber men in all age groups, though the imbalances are largest for those under 30 and above 50.

As the male share of university graduates continues to decline – down below 41% for the last three years – this latter gender imbalance is likely to grow.

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