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Determinants of adults’ solo living in Canada: a longitudinal perspective

Abstract

We examine the demographic, socio-economic and socio-cultural factors that underlie solo-living at mid-adult ages. Both individual and community level factors are analysed. The analysis is based on the longitudinal panel data of the Canadian Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics in 1996–2001, 1999–2004, 2002–2008 and 2005–2010, and census data at the Census District level for 1996, 2001 and 2006. A two-level discrete-time survival model is used within a 6 year observational window for each panel. The analysis starts with persons aged 35–59 who were living alone at the outset of a given panel and follows their departure from this status over the following 6 years. For both men and women, the older respondents, those who have been living solo for a longer time, those who are not in the labour force, and those living in apartments, are more likely to continue living alone. Women are more likely to keep their initial one person household status compared to men in general. In particular, women with medium education (non-university post-secondary certification) are more likely to continue living alone, while for men it is those unemployed who are more likely to remain in the solo-living status. Moreover, persons with lower health status are more likely to continue living by themselves, in comparison to those with excellent health status.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    We focused on the first observed departure because only a very small percentage of the sample experienced the event of interest more than once during the six-year time period and knowing that the first observed departure might not be respondents’ first exit from the OPH status due to the left censored nature of the SLID panel data.

  2. 2.

    SLID asked the question about living arrangement as of December 31 of the reference year, namely the year before the survey was conducted. If a person dropped out of the survey in a year and then reappeared, there was no question asked about the living arrangement during the censored time interval. Therefore, the calculation of the mean duration does not include those who changed their OPH status during the censored time interval. In addition, the duration is calculated from the first wave of each used panel without considering the duration of solo living before the first wave if any.

  3. 3.

    Married or common-law couple/no children and married or common-law couple with children (all children under age 25) are collapsed into married or common-law couple. Female lone-parent family (all children under age 25) and male lone-parent family (all children under age 25) are collapsed into lone-parent family.

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Acknowledgements

The authors are very grateful for the generous comments from two anonymous reviewers for the Journal of Population Research. We also acknowledge the Statistics Canada Research Data Centres as the source of the data used in the analysis. We are very grateful to Nathalie Goowin, Analyst at the Western University RDC, for her dedication to helping us with data access. All errors and omissions are the responsibility of the authors.

Funding

Funding was provided by SSHRC Standard Research Grant (Canada), 2011–2014 (Grant No. 410-2011-0667).

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Correspondence to Jianye Liu.

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Liu, J., Wang, J., Beaujot, R. et al. Determinants of adults’ solo living in Canada: a longitudinal perspective. J Pop Research 37, 53–71 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12546-019-09235-8

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Keywords

  • Determinants of solo living
  • Demographic
  • Economic
  • Cultural and technological change
  • Gender differences
  • Survival analysis