“I’m clearly a textbook case of the silent majority of middle-aged men who won’t admit they’re starved for friendship, even if all signs point to the contrary,” wrote Billy Baker in his recent exploration of male loneliness in The Boston Globe.
Perhaps one reason the piece made so many internet rounds is just how many people could relate: Last year Surgeon General Vivek Murthy warned that Americans are “facing an epidemic of loneliness and social isolation.”
John Cacioppo: When you look across studies, you get levels anywhere from 25 to 48 percent [of people reporting being lonely]. I’ve seen some out of London that suggest 50 percent of Londoners feel lonely, but that’s not a longitudinal sample, so take that with a grain of salt.
The longest subsample is the Health and Retirement Study in the United States. That’s a study the federal government has been running for decades now, and those are the data I base our own estimates on. When we look at that survey, it looks like loneliness is around 27, 28 percent. Our best estimates based on that means it’s increased anywhere on the order of 3 to 7 percent over the last 20 years.
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