After hearing about all of the isolated elderly people, increasing stress and poor psychological health, Tornstam assumed that more people would feel lonely. But his study of 1,742 individuals between the ages of 25 and 79 revealed less loneliness than an equivalent study in 1985.
“Then 49 percent of the adult population experienced loneliness often or sometimes, compared to 42 percent when we asked the same question this time,” Tornstam told Svenska Dagbladet (SvD).
Women experienced greater loneliness – and younger people more than older individuals.
When people were asked for the factors contributing to their loneliness, younger people attributed their social isolation to personality traits, such as being uninteresting or deviant. Older people cited a lack of close relationships and transportation to get out of the house.
People in their thirties experienced the greatest degree of isolation. “It might be that it is then that you are expected to have paired off, gotten married and had children. Not following that time line might lead to a sense of exclusion,” Tornstam said.
Tornstam will present the full results of his findings later this year.