English title: Age and Loneliness in 25 European Nations

Author(s): Keming Yang - Christina Victor -

Language: English

Type: Journal article

Year: 2011

Abstract

The relationship between age and loneliness is intriguing. While loneliness has been widely perceived as a problem of old age, there is some evidence suggesting that the peak age for experiencing loneliness is adolescence. This relationship may demonstrate more complexity if we adopt a cross-national perspective. Comparative data for examining both the prevalence of loneliness across age groups and across a range of nation states are sparse at best. This exploratory study describes the prevalence of loneliness across different age groups in twenty-five European nations, with a focus on the people of an advanced age. After discussing issues of comparability in cross-national gerontology research, we present our empirical analyses employing data collected in the third round (2006/7) of the European Social Survey (ESS, total sample size n = 47,099) which included a ‘self rating’ loneliness scale completed by all participants in the survey (age range 15 to 101). Our results suggest that although the prevalence of loneliness does increase with age for the combined sample, the nation in which one lives has a greater impact than age on feeling lonely, with Russia and Eastern European nations having the highest proportions of lonely people and Northern European nations the lowest. Possible explanatory factors are identified and discussed, with formal analysis to be carried out in a subsequent study.

Volume: 31

Issue: 8

From page no: 1368

To page no: 1388

Refereed: Yes

DOI: 10.1017/S0144686X1000139X

Journal: Ageing & Society

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