Study Finds Americans Lonelier than Europeans in Middle Age

A recent study found that Americans aged 45-65 experience higher levels of loneliness compared to their European counterparts. The study attributes this to a lack of social safety net and cultural norms in the US, leading to serious health consequences.

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Bijay Laxmi
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Study Finds Americans Lonelier than Europeans in Middle Age

Study Finds Americans Lonelier than Europeans in Middle Age

A recent study published in American Psychologist reveals that Americans aged 45-65 experience higher levels of loneliness compared to their European counterparts. The research, which surveyed over 59,000 participants between 2002 and 2020, found that the lack of a social safety net and cultural norms in the United States are key factors contributing to this trend, leading to serious health consequences such as premature death, cardiovascular disease, and dementia.

Why this matters: The growing wants, end loneliness epidemic in the US has significant implications for public health and healthcare systems, as it can lead to increased healthcare costs and a higher burden on social services. Addressing this issue could have a profound impact on the overall well-being and life expectancy of Americans.

The study, led by Frank J. Infurna, associate professor in the department of psychology at Arizona State University, compared loneliness scores of middle-aged adults in the US with those in 13 European nations. The results showed that Americans consistently scored higher on loneliness scales, while countries like Denmark, Sweden, and the Netherlands reported some of the lowest levels of loneliness among the same age group.

Infurna and his team attribute the higher rates of loneliness in the US to several factors, including a lack of social safety net and cultural norms. "A lack of a social safety net in the U.S. as well as cultural norms seem to be driving increases in loneliness versus other European nations," Infurna explains. Limited paid family leave and vacation time in the US may be contributing to the problem, as well as the tendency for highly educated individuals to move away from family and friends for employment opportunities.

The consequences of loneliness are severe, with a lack of social connection increasing the risk of premature death by more than 60% and also raising the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and dementia. Daniel Surkalim, a loneliness researcher at the World Health Organization, notes, "We consistently see that there's a correlation between government investment in its people and lower rates of loneliness."

The study also found that American baby boomers and Generation X had higher levels of loneliness compared to middle-aged adults of the Silent Generation. This trend may be contributing to the declining life expectancy in the US, which currently sits at 77.5 years.

The findings of this study highlight the urgent need to address the growing loneliness epidemic in the United States, particularly among middle-aged adults. By investing in social safety nets and promoting cultural norms that foster social connection, the US may be able to mitigate the negative health consequences associated with loneliness and improve the well-being of its citizens.

Key Takeaways

  • Americans aged 45-65 experience higher levels of loneliness than Europeans.
  • Lack of social safety net and cultural norms contribute to US loneliness.
  • Loneliness increases risk of premature death, cardiovascular disease, and dementia.
  • Investing in social safety nets and promoting social connection can mitigate loneliness.
  • Addressing loneliness can improve overall well-being and life expectancy in the US.