Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Loneliness

Loneliness is going to one of the defining issues of an aging society with a population that has been more mobile than any before. I am very familiar with his work but have not yet read Cacioppo's new book, but the link is here and it is certainly one for upcoming discussion. It is great to see such a renowned economist as Edward Glaeser giving the topic such coverage.

A number of data-sets in Ireland can be used to examine loneliness, including the European Social Survey and the Survey of Health Aging and Retirement in Europe. I will put up a proper reading list for Ireland at a later time.

4 comments:

Kevin Denny said...

Loneliness, to the extent thats its caused by ageing (or even "aging"), will be primarily female as the husbands usually die sooner and divorced males are more likely to re-marry I believe.
The options for such people are quite limited: be lonely or go into a nursing home. Sheltered accomodation, which allows a more greater degree of independence, is quite rare here compared to the UK for example.

Kevin Denny said...

On second thoughts: what exactly do we mean here? Is it just living alone? Arguably loneliness is a feeling that depends on one's circumstances i.e. living arrangements but also what one does about it (socializing) and personality (introverts may need feel lonely even if they are alone).

Martin Ryan said...

Online social networks may mean that my generation is less lonely when it reaches old age. These networks can be used to keep circles wider, and to arrange meetings in the real-world. Of course, immobility is a potential problem, but things like VOIP should at least allow people to chat.

Kevin Denny said...

Yes I was thinking about the role of the internet. It could be a good thing allowing housebound or isolated people to interact more with others. But are there drawbacks? Some sad & lonely people probably spend too much time surfing the web, blogging about science research policy & the like. They need to get out more.