“Loneliness is defined as 'subjective distress’. It is the discrepancy between the social relationships you want and the social relationships you have.”
- Dilip V. Jeste, M.D.
- below are based on gathered international statistics on loneliness (summative data of US, UK and Japan) -
We live in a splendid desert, where the stranger is lonely in the midst of a million of his/her race.
There are many people who have been lonely for a long, long time, more so than we have ever imagined.
The visualization shows the duration of loneliness individuals experience on average, ranging from few months, all the way to years. Among the 737 people who answered to this question from US,UK and Japan, about 25% said they have been alone for more than 10 years.
* Not Sure refers to people who chose 'Not sure/Declined to answer' when describing how long they have been lonely.
Loneliness correlation with Age:
show data aggregated in year:
Large amount of existing data shows that we experience loneliness at least once a week, and the frequency increases as you grow older. It could mean elders are more susceptible, or that loneliness is accumulative.
What Builds Up Our Loneliness?
There are numerous different factors that contribute to one's loneliness, varying in degrees and ranging from physical and mental health, to community and social economical status.
Relative comparison of influence of factor contributing to one's loneliness [ hover above points to highlight causes and display more information; click to collapse / expand ]
About 41% of adults in the US, UK and Japan believes that loneliness is a major issue.
General Public's View on Loneliness:
"It is a major problem"
"It is a minor problem"
"It isn't a problem"
Loneliness actually affects people across all ages. It is more prodominantly reported by working age adults.
Age Mapping within Lonely Population
Married People are just as lonely as people who are single. Given a evenly distributed population people who are single, and people who are currently married are more likely to report that they feel lonely. In the end, it isn't about finding someone to cohabit a house, but being able to spend your life with someone you can truely connect to.
Marital Status Mapping within Lonely Population
Single & Never Married
Single & Living Together with Partner
Divorced / Separated
Loneliness often occurs in parallel with reports of real life problems and circumstances: 8 in 10 say there is a event-based cause of their loneliness, and the specifics of what these causes were vary. Death fo a close family member or friend is ranked as the #1 cause.
Breakdown of Event-based Causes of Loneliness
Death of A Close Family Member or Friend
Negative Change in Financial Status
Terminal Illness or Serious Injury in Family
Terminal Illness or Serious Injury of Self
Loss of Job
Death of Spouse or Partner
Marital Separation or Divorce
Confidant is a person with whom one can connect with, can trust, or share a secret or private matter with. People experiencing loneliness say they have “just a few” or “no” confidants nearby they can rely on for help or support. Within the lonely population, 43% say they only have 0 - 2 confidants.
Number of Confidant(s)
More then 6
3 to 5
0 to 2
Loneliness can have negative effects. People who feels lonely often says that they struggle with mental and physical health, as well as have difficulties maintaining their relationships to others.
Reported Primary Negative Impact of Loneliness
Poor Mental Health
Poor Physical Health
Difficulties Maintaining Personal Relationships
Inability to Do Their Jobs
Odds Ratio between Frequent Loneliness and Social Factors
Odds Ratio quantifies the strength of the association between two events, A and B. 1 means A and B are independent. The larger odds ratio means the presence of B raises the presence of A.
If we summarize from these data what factors contribute more to loneliness.
We can find that loneliness is most related with having no confidant, living alone and being unemployed.
This result is not surprising. Research shows, among three levels of social ties, confidant relationship is most salient to emotional-well being. But maintaining other levels of social connections can also alleviate loneliness:
Top 3 Factors Contributing to Loneliness in
desire for intimacy
Three correlated but separable dimensions of loneliness are intimate, relational, and collective isolation / connection. They respectively refer to the perceived absence/presence of emotional confidant, quality friendships or family connections, and identity with groups or social entity. It is noteworthy that it is the quality more than the quantities of social connections that strongly influences the level of loneliness. If you are lonely, these can help:
Engage and connect with your family and friends
Exercise regularly and eat healthy to maintain good physical health
Work in a place with good employee - employer relationship
Good sleep promote more energy and better mental health
Travel more, engaging with nature helps to relax
Don't be hesitant to talk about your feelings with a friend
Loneliness can be depressing, but the more you understand about it the less scary it becomes.
In the end, we live in a lonely world, but you are not alone.
Harvard CS171 : Visualization
An introductual course at Harvard focusing on key design principles and techniques for visualizing data.
Data Sources / Bibliogrpahy / Others:
European Social Survey Dataset: ESS Dataset
Kaiser Family Foundation/Economist Three-Country Survey Dataset: KFF Dataset
Cigna Loneliness At Epidemic Levels In America Dataset: Cigna Dataset
Literature References: Sources (Click to Expand)