Portraits of choice

Updated: Mar 22, 2021 China Daily Print
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Founder of a painting studio, 33, relaxes in her bed at her Beijing home.[Photo provided to China Daily]

Rising trend

Women, like Dai, who are well-educated and employed, hold less traditional views about marriage. They see marriage as a choice, not a necessity.

This is not only happening in China. Single-person households has become a global trend.

There were 7.9 million people living on their own in the United Kingdom last year, an increase of 4 percent over 10 years, according to figures published by the UK Office for National Statistics. In the United States, the number of singletons has increased gradually since 1960, reaching an estimated 34.75 million in 2019, according to the US Census Bureau.

Increasingly, young people are delaying or eschewing marriage to focus on their careers, personal development, education or travel, according to the market research company Euromonitor International's top 10 global consumer trends in 2019.

American sociologist Eric Klinenberg explains the global phenomenon in Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone. Published in 2012, the book talks about the rise of solo living as an extremely important social trend, which presents a fundamental challenge to the centrality of the family in modern society, due to increasing wealth, communication revolution, mass urbanization and increased longevity.

Chen Youhua, a professor with the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Nanjing University, told China Women's News that the independent lifestyle has its advantages, including the amount of freedom and responsibilities, and disadvantages such as high costs and the lack of company.

Challenges for women living alone also hit the headlines after a 26-year-old woman was trapped in her bathroom for 30 hours in Beijing during the Spring Festival holiday following "stay-put "measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She lives alone with a cat as company in her apartment.

Safety tips for women living alone, including using safety locks, installing a home security system and keeping cellphones at hand, have been covered in media. Businesses have begun to meet the demand. The rise of social media has made staying connected easier and on-demand delivery services easily available.

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