Are you lonely? Loneliness is steadily rising in the United States, which has created a loneliness epidemic. Two thousand eighteen loneliness statistics show that 30% of older adults reported loneliness.
Survey data from 2019 shows that 58% of Americans often felt like no one in their life knew them well. In 2020, young women in the US were most likely to report losing touch with friends. Most Americans are seeking more friendships and connectedness than ever.
In this article, we will explore loneliness statistics, including
- what age group is the most desolate
- who suffers the most from loneliness
- the leading causes of loneliness
- the effects of loneliness
- whether or not living alone is healthy
What Do Social Isolation and Loneliness Mean?
According to the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, social isolation and loneliness have specific definitions.
Social isolation: refers to the general and often broad absence of contact with other people.
Loneliness: the perceived subjective feeling of being lonely.
In the study, researchers coined a helpful phrase for understanding these two concepts:
“Isolation is being by yourself. Loneliness is not liking it.”
Recent Report on Americans’ Friendship Loss and Challenges
A 2021 American Perspectives Survey shows that Americans report fewer close friendships than ever. Respondents claimed to talk and rely less often on their friends for emotional support.
So why is this happening? Americans marry much later and are more likely to move around often. These two factors are related to higher rates of social isolation and feelings of loneliness.
Here are some ways that contribute to friendship loss and challenges according to the American Perspectives survey:
- Working long hours leads to social isolation.
- Parents not getting enough adult friend time may contribute to more feelings of loneliness.
- Having too many friends in one area of your life makes you vulnerable to loneliness; it is best to cultivate more friendships outside of places like the workplace.
Check out more ways to thrive when you want to make friends, like joining a cooking class or visiting an art museum!
What Age Group is the Most Lonely?
From baby boomers to millennials to Gen Z, young people, young adults, and older adults all report loneliness. A recent study surveyed 2,000+ people across the US from 18-89+ years old.
Researchers could not find any age-related predictors of loneliness! They found that living alone, having poor health, infrequent social interactions, and being unmarried predict loneliness in all age groups.
Here’s what researchers found that having in your life may protect against feelings of loneliness:
- A roommate
- Good health
- A spouse
- Frequent social interactions.
Research findings highlight the importance of fostering strong social bonds and being a part of a community.
Which Gender is The Most Lonely?
Statistics on loneliness in the United States by gender are limited. International studies from the United Kingdom show that women more often reported feelings of loneliness than men.
The reported frequency of loneliness by sex in the UK
Researchers state that women are more willing to admit they feel more lonely than men! According to the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, senior men experience more social isolation than women:
- 1.2 million older men reported experiencing moderate to high social isolation.
- 700,000 older men endorsed high degrees of feelings of loneliness.
- There’s a prediction that 1.5 million older men will live alone in the UK by 2030.
Researchers state this may be due to men having fewer social ties and less contact with friends and family.
According to the Campaign to End Loneliness, the critical difference between men’s and women’s friendships is their values in these relationships.
Here is how men value friendships with other men:
- Men value instrumental aspects of their friendships.
- Common interests and shared activities are fundamental.
- One study found that all men valued groups that promoted social and emotional ties with other men, such as gaming, sports, and recreational activities that increase well-being.
Here is how women value friendships with other women:
- Women value emotion-based aspects of their friendships.
- Mutual understanding and intimacy are the most important.
- Disclosing struggles and showing compassion are essential for fostering closeness within female friendships.
Which States Are The Loneliest?
A researcher used data from the US Census to examine which places had high levels of loneliness. They mapped out which states had the most people living alone, the highest divorce rates, and most dating app searches.
Here are the top 10 loneliest states:
4. West Virginia
5. New Mexico
9. New Hampshire
Researchers noted that having more people doesn’t always mean being less lonely. Florida is the 11th most lonely state yet is the third most populated!
Which States Are The Least Lonely?
Are you planning a move soon? Here are the top 10 least lonely states:
4. New Jersey
6. New York
What makes Utah and Hawaii the top least lonely states? It’s all about the big family sizes, low divorce rates, and barely anyone living alone!
Are the Wealthy More Lonely? It depends!
Have you ever wondered if those with more money and assets are less lonely? The results are mixed. According to a US study, people with more income spent more time with their friends and less time with their families and neighbors. They also found that having a higher household income is associated with spending less time socializing with other people and more time being alone.
People who hit the jackpot when playing the lottery seem more lonely than ever. Winners report divorce, frequent jealousy, losing friends, and barriers with family.
One study compared loneliness levels between UK and US participants, and the differences were individual characteristics associated with loneliness, such as wealth. UK participants reported fewer wealth disparities than Americans. Wealth disparities increase the perception of inequality and elicit distrust, leading to increased feelings of loneliness in all countries.
When examining wealth, investigators note it doesn’t always mean having more cash or credit. It can mean having more experience as well. Research shows that having more purchases related to experiences than material objects relates to less loneliness and more happiness.
What Are The Effects of Loneliness?
Loneliness researchers have found that social isolation increases the risk for various adverse health outcomes. There are many risk factors, such as the risk of heart disease, risk of stroke, weakened immune system, obesity, inflammation, long-term disability, depression, anxiety, and even premature death.
The CDC reports that many older adults face a 50% increased risk of dementia due to social isolation, leading to increased stroke risk and premature death. Visiting elderly family members is a great way to combat these statistics.
According to research, here’s how to fight the effects of loneliness:
- Avoid physical inactivity: go for your daily walks and stay hydrated.
- Stay educated on health care topics and relevant health risks.
- Prioritize quality sleep by having good sleep hygiene.
- Learn to cook at home nutritious and convenient meals!
Loneliness and Happiness
Researchers give insights into the key to social connectedness and loneliness: how people interpret, recall, and perceive their life experiences, this is called subjectiveness happiness. Subjective happiness is critical since it relates to how people interpret their social support, which can alter how lonely one feels. One fundamental way to cultivate more subjective happiness: reframe negative experiences by viewing them with a sense of humor.
An international study called the World Values Survey shows that happier participants often rated spending more time with their friends in nearly all countries.
Does spending more time with others make us happier? Yes, but there’s a catch. With friendships comes the possibility of social loss. Researchers explain the complicated results of an external shock to our social relationships.
More research is needed, but observational evidence shows that people report a short-term drop in happiness when they experience a loss, such as divorce. Over time they recover and usually report being more satisfied with their life than right before the social loss.
These results show that having more time with others makes us happier, but it also puts us at risk for social failure. Thankfully, even if one experiences an extreme social loss, they may feel more lonely immediately, but they usually recover!
What If I Enjoy Being Alone?
Are you a loner? Some people are predisposed to prefer being alone, such as introverts. Preferring to be alone and feeling lonely are different! For introverts, solitude is good for concentration and allows them to generate more ideas. Feeling lonely is a risk factor for various adverse health conditions. Thankfully social support prevents loneliness! One researcher found that for introverts, seeking social support is essential for feeling less lonely. Another study found that introverts tend to have less intimate groups and hide in large communities. There are other personality factors at play when it comes to loneliness. A recent study found that the relationship between loneliness and personality is greatly explained by neuroticism and is genetic in nature.
Anti-Loneliness Life Hacks
Let’s recap the top ways, according to loneliness statistics, to fight the loneliness epidemic:
- Avoid living alone, have a roommate!
- Cultivate good health, physical and mental.
- Consider prioritizing dating and marriage.
- Engage in frequent social interactions.
- Don’t work too many long hours.
- Engage in friendships outside of work.
- Spend money on experiences: travel, live music, conferences, conventions, and more!
Feeling lonely and want to learn more tips to combat loneliness? Check out more ways to combat loneliness!