Loneliness in the United States

Goals

To find information on loneliness and how much of a problem it is in the United States i.e. statistics of the number of people that feel lonely, disconnected from themselves, disconnected from society or others, unclear about their direction and purpose in life, the amount of funds the government spends on solutions to loneliness, the amount of money people spend on themselves to find solutions to loneliness, and the impacts on the economy from lost productivity that is attributed to loneliness.

Early Findings

  • According to a 2018 survey that was conducted by the Economist and the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), "more than 2 in 10 adults or 22% of adults in the United States say they always or often feel lonely, lack companionship, or feel left out or isolated."
  • These figures illustrate the seriousness of loneliness in the United States. Loneliness is accompanied by equally alarming warnings i.e. it is stunting the lives of Americans and outright killing people.
  • Another survey by Cigna reported that almost half of Americans always or sometimes feel alone (46%) or left out (47%) while a whole 54% of Americans feel they always or sometimes feel that no one knows them well.
  • Scientists have reported that loneliness "is emotionally painful and can lead to psychiatric disorders like depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and even hallucinatory delirium."
  • In 2015, researchers at UCLA discovered that loneliness and social isolation triggers cellular changes that result in chronic inflammation resulting in exposure to serious physical conditions such as heart disease, stroke, metastatic cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Another 2015 analysis that used data from 70 studies that followed 3.4 million people over 7 years reported that lonely people had a 26% higher risk of dying and this figure rose to 32% if the lonely people lived alone.
  • Over the last 50 years, the number of single households in the United States that consist of one person have doubled. Today, this type of households is the second most common household type in the country.
  • Additionally, living alone in the United States is more prevalent in cities where an estimated 40% of households have single occupants.
  • In the United States, loneliness in people aged 65+ years costs the government around $7 billion in additional health care costs annually.

Proposed next steps:

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Preliminary research concluded that information on loneliness in the United States may be available in the public domain. Consequently, we recommend additional research to find information on statistics of the number of people in the U.S. that feel lonely, disconnected from themselves, disconnected from society/others, and are unclear about their direction and purpose in life.
We also recommend research to address the financial and economic impact of loneliness in the United States i.e. what is the economic impacts of loneliness as a result of lost productivity that is attributed to loneliness.
Lastly, we recommend research to find information on the amount of funds the government spends on solutions to loneliness and the amount of money people spend on themselves to find solutions to loneliness.