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ONS is now working with a cross-government group, charities, academics and other stakeholders to review the measurement of loneliness and publish recommendations on this later this year. The analysis presented here is based on this question.
The survey was selected for analysis because it asked respondents about how often they experience loneliness and about other aspects of their lives — this article is focused on the frequency of loneliness rather than degree of loneliness.
The focus of this article is on identifying personal characteristics and circumstances that increase or reduce the likelihood of experiencing loneliness. We also present profiles of loneliness — collections of personal characteristics that can put people at greater or lesser risk of loneliness. This could be used to target support more effectively towards people who are at greater risk of feeling lonely more often. Please see the accompanying technical report for further details. Initially descriptive analysis was carried out to shed light on how personal characteristics and circumstances are associated with self-reported loneliness.
Women reported feeling lonely more frequently than men. It is possible that this may reflect in part differences in how men and women reflect on their personal experiences of loneliness or respond to the question. Some research suggests that men may be more reluctant than women to report undesirable feelings such as loneliness 1,2.
Figure 4: Reported frequency of loneliness by marital status England Source: Community Life Survey, August to March Notes: Married or civil partnership does not include those who reported being separated. Figure 5: Reported frequency of loneliness by general health England Source: Community Life Survey, August to March Download this image Figure 5: Reported frequency of loneliness by general health.
Figure 6: Reported frequency of loneliness by presence of a long-term illness or disability England Source: Community Life Survey, August to March Download this image Figure 6: Reported frequency of loneliness by presence of a long-term illness or disability. Figure 6 data relates to a survey question which did not ask whether their condition was limiting. The data remains unchanged. Figure 7: Reported frequency of loneliness by employment status England Source: Community Life Survey, August to March Download this image Figure 7: Reported frequency of loneliness by employment status.
Figure 8: Reported frequency of loneliness by living as a couple or not England Source: Community Life Survey, August to March Download this image Figure 8: Reported frequency of loneliness by living as a couple or not. People who live alone are at greater risk of feeling lonely more often. Figure 9: Reported frequency of loneliness by living with others or with others England Source: Community Life Survey, August to March Download this image Figure 9: Reported frequency of loneliness by living with others or with others. Homeowner households tend to have greater financial wealth and average annual household income is greater for those in owner occupied homes than those in rented homes.
It may not be housing tenure in itself that is associated with how often people feel lonely but financial security. Download this image Figure Reported frequency of loneliness by tenure. This suggests those who feel they belong to their neighbourhood less strongly are at greater risk of loneliness Figure Figure Reported frequency of loneliness by strength of belonging to neighbourhood England Source: Community Life Survey, August to March Download this image Figure Reported frequency of loneliness by strength of belonging to neighbourhood.
Figure Reported frequency of loneliness by satisfaction with local area as a place to live England Source: Community Life Survey, August to March Download this image Figure Reported frequency of loneliness by satisfaction with local area as a place to live. Borys, S. Gender differences in loneliness. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 11 1 , s 63 to Nicolaisen, M. Who are lonely? Loneliness in different age groups 18 to 81 years old , using two measures of loneliness. In order to understand more about how each of these personal characteristics and circumstances contribute to loneliness, logistic regression has been used in the analysis reported in this section.
This is an analytical technique that works by focusing on one factor at a time, while holding others constant so the effect of specific characteristics and circumstances can be assessed. In reality, individuals will have a of characteristics that could increase or decrease the chances of them feeling lonely and so it can be difficult to identify the underlying causes of loneliness, or alternatively, what keeps people from feeling lonely. Using this technique, it is possible to isolate the different effects of each characteristic or circumstance on reported loneliness.
All factors reported in this section have a statistically ificant link with loneliness that is, we are confident these findings are robust and not just due to random variability in the survey estimates. Regression analysis can identify relationships between factors, however, it cannot tell us about causality.
For a full description of how we carried out the analysis, see the accompanying technical report. Of the 34 characteristics and circumstances included in this analysis, 13 were found to have an impact on loneliness, including:. When all other factors are held constant, the likelihood of reporting feeling lonely more often tends to decrease with age. The 25 to 34 years, 65 to 74 years and 75 years and over age groups were all ificantly less likely to be lonely more often than the 16 to 24 years age group.
This pattern was also noted in the section but is more prominent here after holding other factors constant related to both age and loneliness such as becoming a widow or having a disability. There could be different explanations for this. On the other hand, some research evidence shows that loneliness is associated with poorer life expectancy. This might mean that people who are lonelier also live shorter lives and are therefore less likely to be represented among the older population.
Health and disability are strongly related to loneliness. It is, however, important to remember that the relationship between health and loneliness could be reciprocal — with poorer health or disability influencing the experience of loneliness as well as loneliness influencing poorer health and disability. For example, Lund and others argue that lonely individuals are also at higher risk of the onset of disability. Social connections are an important aspect of loneliness and the here clearly show that communications with friends, family and neighbours, as well as feelings of belonging to and satisfaction with local area are associated with loneliness.
Those who said they meet up with friends and family less often also reported higher levels of loneliness. The figures are otherwise unchanged. It is important to remember that logistic regression is good for identifying which specific characteristics and circumstances are most strongly related to loneliness. However, in reality, individuals experience a combination of different characteristics and circumstances in their lives and how these come together may be particularly relevant to the perception of loneliness. Latent class analysis LCA is a statistical technique used to group individuals with similar patterns of characteristics including reported experience of loneliness for more information please see the accompanying technical report.
The LCA identify sets of characteristics that predict how often people report feeling lonely. Indicator variables included in the LCA model were:. Having produced profiles based on these characteristics, these were then analysed in terms of additional variables to find out more about the groups.
These variables included in the LCA model were:. Three sets of characteristics were found to be associated with greater risk of feeling lonely more often. Older widowed homeowners who live alone and have long-term health conditions were particularly likely to report feeling lonely more frequently. The people in this group tended to be:. At even greater risk of feeling lonely more often were unmarried middle-agers also with long-term health conditions. People in this group were characterised as:.
One younger group were identified as experiencing loneliness more often. Respondents in this group were characterised as:. Common to two of the loneliness profile groups was the experience of having a long-term health condition or disability. It is possible that health problems or disability may be factors in the greater frequency of reported loneliness in these groups. To some extent this may be unsurprising given the higher age of this group.
This analysis, however, emphasises that those in good health and without disability can also be at risk of experiencing loneliness as illustrated by the other often lonely profile group who were younger and in good health without limiting illness or disability. Our analysis also highlights that people can experience loneliness at any age, though there are different circumstances and characteristics associated with loneliness at different ages. People who rent rather than owning their homes were prominently represented among two of the loneliness profile groups. Our earlier analysis also found that those who rent their home report loneliness more frequently than those who own their homes.
We have not differentiated between renting private or social housing and cannot be sure whether this finding reflects different financial positions among those who rent and own, or whether it may be possibly related to differences in a sense of belonging to their local area. This analysis so far has focused on the characteristics and circumstances of those most lonely, however, one group were also identified who were least lonely.
This is the latest release. View releases. Table of contents Main points Things you need to know about this release Who is lonely more often? Which factors independently affect loneliness? Profiles of loneliness. Women reported feeling lonely more often than men. Those single or widowed were at particular risk of experiencing loneliness more often. Renters reported feeling lonely more often than homeowners. People who have little trust of others in their local area reported feeling lonely more often.
Three profiles of people at particular risk from loneliness were identified: Widowed older homeowners living alone with long-term health conditions. Unmarried, middle-agers with long-term health conditions. Younger renters with little trust and sense of belonging to their area.
Back to table of contents. Figure 1: Reported frequency of loneliness in adults England. Separated includes people who are legally married but reported being separated. Download this image Figure 4: Reported frequency of loneliness by marital status. Indicator variables included in the LCA model were: marital status general health long-term physical or mental health conditions living alone or with others housing tenure age group Having produced profiles based on these characteristics, these were then analysed in terms of additional variables to find out more about the groups.Lonely wives United Kingdom
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of people living alone in the UK