Nearly one in four people worldwide -- which translates into more than a billion people -- feel very or fairly lonely, according to a recent Meta-Gallup survey of more than 140 countries.
Notably, these numbers could be even higher. The survey represents approximately 77% of the world’s adults because it was not asked in the second-most populous country in the world, China.
With the World Health Organization and many others -- including the U.S. surgeon general -- calling attention to the dangers of loneliness, these data, collected in partnership between Gallup and Meta, provide a much-needed global perspective of social wellbeing.
The Global State of Social Connections report, which launches Nov. 1, 2023, will detail these and other country-level findings based on the first global study of loneliness, which entails nationally representative surveys conducted in 142 countries and areas worldwide.
Older Adults Report Lowest Levels of Loneliness
Global results indicate that the lowest rates of feeling lonely are reported among older adults (aged 65 and older), with 17% feeling very or fairly lonely, while the highest rates of feeling lonely are reported among young adults (aged 19 to 29), with 27% feeling very or fairly lonely.
Although many calls to reduce loneliness are focused on older adults, majorities of those aged 45 and older do not feel lonely at all, while less than half of those younger than 45 say the same.
Globally, Men and Women Are Equally Lonely
In general, rates of reported loneliness are similar between men and women. Global results show that 24% of both men and women report feeling very or fairly lonely.
In most countries, there is little to no gender difference in rates of feeling lonely, but substantial gender gaps do exist in some places. Overall, there are more countries in which the rate of self-reported loneliness is higher for women than for men (79 countries) than the opposite pattern (63 countries).
Half the World Isn’t Lonely
Not everyone is lonely. Forty-nine percent of people surveyed reported that they are not lonely at all, which translates into approximately 2.2 billion people across the 142 countries surveyed in this research.
In countries all over the world, millions of people experience loneliness in their daily lives. Research shows that loneliness is associated with elevated risk for a wide range of physical and mental health conditions, making research on loneliness a critical first step to improving health and wellbeing worldwide.
Overall, these global data show that a quarter of people report feeling very or fairly lonely, with older adults the least likely to report feelings of loneliness. Understanding differences in how people experience -- or do not experience -- loneliness across the globe can lead to new avenues for mitigating loneliness and improving social wellbeing in communities everywhere.
The forthcoming report on the Global State of Social Connections explores how feelings of loneliness differ across countries and shares corresponding data on rates of social connectedness, which are considerably higher (globally) than the data on loneliness may seem to suggest.
For more, read Gallup and Meta’s recent report on the State of Social Connections, which takes a more expansive view of social connection and loneliness in seven countries, and look for the Global State of Social Connections report launching Nov. 1, 2023.
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For complete methodology and specific survey dates, please review Gallup's Country Data Set details.
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