Millions of Europeans feel they have no one to turn to in times of trouble, according to a survey conducted by Eurostat.
The study found:
- Six percent of Europeans can be described as lonely
- Men are more lonely than women
- City dwellers have fewer people to confide in than those living in the countryside
- The elderly are particularly isolated
Country by country
The situation is worst in Italy, where 13.2% of respondents lack someone to go to in difficulty, and in Luxembourg (12.9%), the Netherlands (10.2%), Portugal (9.6%), and Latvia (8.2 %).
Czechs are the least socially isolated, with just 1.9% saying that they have nobody to turn to. Finland also score well (2.1%), as did Slovakia (2.1%), Sweden (2.3%) and Hungary (2.8%).
Someone to confide in
6.1% of Europeans have nobody to talk about personal matters with.
The situation is worst in France, where 12.24% of respondents lack someone to confide in, and in Italy (11.9%), Macedonia (8.7%), the Netherlands (8.3%), and Belgium (6.8 %).
Cypriots are the least socially isolated on this measure, with just 2% saying that they have nobody to discuss things with. Slovakia scores better than other countries in this category, too (2.2%), along with Spain (2.2%), and Hungary (2.3%).
Which sections of the community are most affected?
Overall women are less lonely than men. 5.6% of women said they have nobody to turn to, compared to 6.3% of men. 5.5% have nobody to discuss personal issues with, compared with 6.7% of men.
The elderly are disproportionately affected on both measures. In the Netherlands 21.2% of those over the age of 75 said that they lack somebody to go to, and in France 20.6% of the people in this age group have nobody to confide in. In Slovakia elderly people report feeling less isolated: just 1.5% of the elderly there say they had nobody to go to, and 3.4% of them don’t have anyone to discuss personal matters with.
Unsurprisingly, single people fare worse than those in couples, and people without dependent children are more isolated than those who have them.
Ironically more city-dwellers felt isolated than those living in rural situations. 6.4% of city dwellers had nobody to turn to, and 6.1% had nobody to confide in, compared to 4.8% and 5.6% of those living in the country.
Those on lower incomes felt more socially isolated. 9.4% of respondents in this category had nobody to turn to, and 9.7% nobody to confide in. Just 3.8% of those in the highest income category lacked someone to go to, and 3.4% were without someone to discuss personal matters with.
Jo Cox Loneliness Commission
In the UK, a Commission has been established in the memory of murdered MP, Jo Cox, to tackle loneliness:
The Commission aims not simply to highlight the problem, but more importantly to act as a “call to action”. With the message ‘Start a Conversation’, the Commission will try to get people talking at all levels – whether chatting to a neighbour, visiting an old friend, or just making time for the people they meet. The Commission will also target businesses and employer organisations and look at what action local and national Government can take to combat loneliness.