With a growing number of single people in their 20s and 30s living alone in big cities, solo living is becoming a common phenomenon.
With the development of urbanization, the rise of individualism and improvement in women's status, living alone has become a new normal worldwide. The trend is most evident in Europe, with single-person households making up more than 40 percent of all households in many countries across the European Union.
The rise of living alone has been a transformative social experience in China. It is playing catch-up with industrialized countries where individuals, rather than traditional families, have become the society's building blocks.
China's single population has reached 240 million, with more than 77 million adults living alone, according to statistics from the Ministry of Civil Affairs. The number of adults who live alone is expected to rise to 92 million by 2021.
The trend, correlating with a steady decline in marriage and the birth rates, is driven by young people's decision to delay or opt out of marriage entirely, a rising divorce rate, and a profound change in their perception of remaining single.
With Internet-based entertainment getting wildly popular in China, today's young people, millennials particularly, can now stay alone without being lonely.
There are other reasons why living alone is becoming more accepted. Single people spend more money on eating out, hobbies and entertainment than their married counterparts, contributing to a fast-growing lonely economy.
However, running parallel to this is the heightened awareness of loneliness as an issue.
This is an edited excerpt of an article originally published in Lifeweek on March 29
(Print Edition Title: The Lonely Economy)