12/17/2019

Is there a loneliness epidemic?

"In the ‘loneliness epidemic’ narrative, it is often implied that if we compare two individuals of the same age – one today and another one a generation ago – we would find that the one today is more likely to feel lonely. This is based on the idea that there have been societal changes – such as the rise of living alone – that make newer generations more likely to feel lonely.

In their study, Louise Hawkley and co-authors searched for evidence of these ‘cohort trends’ in the US, but didn’t find any. There was very little difference in self-reported loneliness of people born in different generations. Those that were born in 1920-1947 experienced the same changes of loneliness throughout their lives as those born in 1948-1965. It’s not the case that loneliness is increasing across generations."