Spain has exceeded the threshold of two million people over 65 who live alone in Spain. They are almost half of the 4.7 million single-person households, According to the data of the National Institute of Statistics (INE) published this Tuesday, corresponding to 2018. Of these, more than 850,000 are 80 or more years old and the vast majority are women: 662,000. "Old age is female," says Antonio Abellán, demographer of the Population Department of the CSIC and an expert on aging. Although the data shows that the trends between age groups have not varied significantly between 2013 and 2018 -the years for which there is data-, they do reveal the demographic crisis facing Spain. About 112,000 over 80 without company more than in 2013. Older and more alone.
The data of the INE's Continuous Household Survey also allows us to appreciate the decrease of young people living alone. Last year, some 482,000 people aged 25 to 34 did not share housing, compared to 616,300 six years ago. Between 25 and 29 years, the figure went from 224,300 to 167,600 in the same period: 8% of those who belonged to this age group compared to 6.7%. The INE survey also reveals that 53.1% of these young people were still in the family home (in 2013 they were 48.5%).
"We should not get used to this figure. It would be a scandal in Scandinavian countries. It is almost a world record of young people living with a parent. And it does not seem to go unless. The crisis was noted in unemployment, but now that the levels of work are recovering, we see that the data does not improve. The precariousness has not stopped growing ", explains Albert Esteve, director of the Center for Demographic Studies of the Autonomous University of Barcelona. "That the average number of household members remains more or less stable around 2.5 people is due, in part, to the fact that many older children remain in the family home. This also affects fertility. Life as a couple starts later and the arrival of the children is delayed ", keep going.
That is to say, that fewer and fewer young people can become independent, while the number of adults in single-person households increases. Experts insist that it is necessary to differentiate between the chosen and the unwanted solitude. "We come from a society in which it was an obligation assumed by the children to care for the elderly. And now it clashes with the desire for independence of the parents, which is accentuated over the years, "continues Abellán. And technological advances make it easier for the elderly to stay at home. "If there is a development of home care services and the homes are adapted, they gain autonomy," he continues.
"Life alone will continue to grow. Although marriages do not end as much as death, since the life expectancy of men has increased, there are people who enter retirement after years of living alone, because they broke the marriage in the past or because they chose the single . It is usually a loneliness different from the one that occurs in older people, "adds Abellán.
"The data show an increase in the homes of older people who live as a couple, a trend that has already been seen in Nordic countries," the demographer continues. Almost 1.2 million people over 80 live as a couple, compared to 976,000 six years ago. According to INE figures, calculated from more than 47,000 surveys, the most frequent household in 2018, among all age groups, was formed by couples, with or without children: 55.1% of the total.
From 2013 to 2018, single-person households have increased by 320,000 and last year accounted for 25.5%. "Those over 65 take three quarters of this increase," explains Mercè Pérez Salanova, a doctor in Psychology and member of the Psychologists Association of Catalonia. "Living alone is not a problem. They are the conditions in which it is done and if it is chosen. The problem is when it is not, "adds the expert.
Albert Esteve stresses that, despite the increase in absolute numbers of older people living alone, trends have remained more or less stable over the years. "In 2013, 29.7% of those between 80 and 84 years old lived alone. Last year they were 29%, "he explains. Yes, the absolute number increases because there are more people in these generations.
The survey also reveals that the number of households in Spain increased again during 2018 and reached 18,535,900, which was 0.3% more than in the previous year (63,100 more households). The communities with the highest percentage of single-person households in 2018 were Asturias (30.2% of all households), Castilla y León (29.3%) and La Rioja (28.5%). On the other hand, the lowest percentages were found in Melilla (18.4%) and Ceuta (19.5%) and in Murcia (20.8%).