Household Estimates – 2016


Over the past decades the global trend towards smaller and less conventional households continued, driven by lower marriage and fertility rates, ageing populations, rapid urbanisation and rising wealth in emerging markets.
 Globally, household formation exceeded population growth. Since 2006 household numbers are estimated to have increased over 25% from 1,65 billion to 2.1 billion in 2016, led by China, India and the US, with 461 million, 271 million and 127 million households, respectively.

Household growth was most rapid in developing markets, in Latin America and Asia as well as in Africa in recent years, fuelled by rising incomes and a high level of urbanisation. Despite the necessity for recession-hit families to combine households in order to save resources, globally, the overall trend towards single and two-person households and single-parent households continues.

Although globally couples with children still account for the largest share of households, at around 40%, couples without children and single-person households are increasing their share.

The long-term trend towards smaller household units has been due to a combination of factors, including urbanisation and rising wealth in developing markets, lower marriage and fertility rates, a rise in divorce rates and ageing populations.

The number of single-person households globally grew over 50% since 2001 to 330 million or 16% of total households by the end of 2016. This trend is seen across regions and within both developed as well as emerging and developing economies. However, it is more pronounced in the developed economies of Northern and Western Europe and North America where the proportion of single-person households stood at 35 to over 40% compared to just over 10% in the Middle East and Africa.

By 2020, the number of single-person households globally is estimated to rise to 415 million or 18% of total households. China will have the highest number of single-person households in the world at 52 million followed by the USA (50 million), Japan (20 million) and India (18 million).

Trends in changing household structure and consequently consumer behaviour will most certainly have consequences for consumer demand and spending. A rising middle class of consumers with higher income, fuelled by in particular mobile and social media, will impact marketers in the very near future.

Aad Weening
Director International Consumer Trends

April 2016


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