Loneliness can be defined as the mental or emotional discomfort you may experience due to a lack of social interactions.
Loneliness is rising steadily in the US, creating a loneliness epidemic.
We have created a collection of the most relevant loneliness statistics in the US, including what age group suffers the most from loneliness, the leading causes of loneliness, the effects of loneliness, and so much more.
Top loneliness statistics you should know
Here are the top loneliness statistics for the general population.
- 58% of US adults were considered lonely in 2021, compared with 61% in 2019 and 54% in 2018. (Cigna 2021)
- 7% of US adults always feel lonely, 14% often feel lonely, and 32% sometimes feel lonely. (YouGov)
- 21% of adults have no close friends. (YouGov)
- 22% of US adults don’t know or can’t recall the last time they made a new friend. (YouGov)
- 53% of US adults find it difficult to make new friends because they are shy. (YouGov)
- 22% of adults say they feel lonely, isolated, left out, or lack companionship. (KFF)
- 10% of adults reporting loneliness or social isolation say they have no one they can discuss personal issues with, and another 39% say they have 1-2 confidants. (KFF)
Loneliness statistics in the US
According to the American Survey Center, Americans are experiencing fewer close friendships- meaning they’re talking to their friends less often and relying less on friends for personal support. Therefore, there’s increased social isolation and loneliness.
Which gender is more lonely?
- According to Cigna, men and women experience almost similar levels of loneliness. 57% of men and 59% of women feel lonely.
- Men are less likely than women to admit to feeling lonely. In addition, they are more stigmatized than women feeling the same.
At what age is loneliness most common?
The majority of younger adults say they feel lonely compared to older adults.
- Loneliness levels are highest in younger adults (18-34) at 42% and lowest in older adults (55 and older) at just 16%. (Cigna)
The rate of loneliness by race
According to a study on people struggling with mental health, loneliness is likely to contribute to mental problems for:
- 71.52% of Asian or Pacific Islander people
- 69.24% of Blacks or African Americans
- 73.88% of Hispanic or Latinos
- 71.19% of Native Americans or American Indians
- 68.40% of Whites (non-Hispanic)
What are the loneliest states in America?
This research used the US Census data to examine the states with the highest levels of loneliness. The researchers ranked each state based on the following factors: people living alone, states with the highest divorce rates, and those with the most dating apps/sites related searches.
Top loneliest states
- West Virginia
- New Mexico
- New Hampshire
Least lonely states
- New Jersey
Loneliness and education
According to a YouGov study on friendship:
- Among people who did not graduate from high school, 9% always feel lonely, 14% often feel lonely, and 28% sometimes feel lonely. In addition, 30% have no close friends.
- Among those with some college education (2 years in college), 7% always feel lonely, 18% often feel lonely, and 33% sometimes feel lonely. 15% of them have no close friends.
- Among those with a 4-year college education, 4% always feel lonely, 13% often feel lonely, and 36% feel lonely sometimes. 16% of those have no close friends.
- Among those with a Post Grad, 8% report feeling lonely always, 6% feel lonely often, and 36% feel lonely sometimes. 10% of them have no close friends.
Loneliness and sexual orientation
Sexual orientation-based violence can result in higher levels of feelings of loneliness.
- 45% of gay men and 20% of lesbians report physical and verbal abuse due to their sexual orientation and experiencing loneliness most of the time. (ScienceDirect)
Does money make you lonely?
People with lower incomes are more likely to experience higher levels of loneliness than those with higher incomes.
According to this YouGov study conducted on personality in 2021, loneliness does vary according to income:
- 14% of people earning under $40k a year have felt lonely on most days since the beginning of the pandemic, and 6% feel lonely all the time.
- 10% of those earning between $40k to $80k a year have felt lonely most days since the pandemic, and 4% always feel lonely.
- 9% of those earning over $80k a year have felt lonely after the pandemic, and 2% feel lonely all the time.
Today, the number of social media users in America is around seven in ten people.
So, does social media cause loneliness?
Heavy usage of social media can cause loneliness, depression, and isolation. According to Cigna’s loneliness report, 2020:
- 73% of heavy social media users are considered lonely, compared to 52% of light users.
- 64% of heavy social media users report that they sometimes or always feel alone.
- 60% of social media users always or sometimes feel no longer close to anyone.
How bad is loneliness for your health?
Loneliness can pose serious health risks affecting many people in America.
- 40% of people with adults living with a disability or chronic conditions report feelings of loneliness or social isolation. (University of Michigan)
According to a CDC study:
- Social isolation or loneliness can increase a person’s risk of premature death from different causes, including smoking, weight issues, and physical inactivity.
- Loneliness can increase the risk of dementia by 50%.
- Loneliness can increase the risk of heart disease by 29% and stroke by 50%.
- Lonely adults with heart failure are nearly four times more likely to die. In addition, they have a 68% increased risk of hospitalization and a 57% increased risk of visiting the emergency department.
Data from Cigna 2021 suggests that:
- 77% of US adults with physical health issues are lonely, compared to 50% of those with good physical health.
- Lonely adults are more likely to be diagnosed with sleep disorders, obesity, substance abuse, etc.
- 85% of adults with fair or poor mental health are considered lonely, compared to 42% of those with good mental health.
- 33% of lonely adults are currently diagnosed with behavioral or mental conditions, including bipolar, anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, low self-esteem, etc.
Loneliness and Covid-19
Data from Roots of Loneliness shows that:
- Loneliness levels increased by 181% during the Covid-19 pandemic compared to before.
- Before Covid, 20.7% of people were lonely, compared to 58.1% who felt somewhat or much lonelier after Covid.
- 55% of men and 60.6% of women felt lonely during the pandemic.
- 61.8% of millennials say they felt somewhat or much lonelier during the pandemic, compared to 24.3% who were lonely before.
- 53.6% of Gen X always or sometimes felt lonely during covid, compared to 16.6% before Covid.
- 50.8% of Baby Boomers always or sometimes felt lonely during Covid, compared to 15.7% before.
- During social distancing, 67.7% of people living alone felt lonely, 54.7% of people living with others (with no children felt lonely, and 55% of people living with children felt lonely.
Loneliness and life events
- About 65% of parents and guardians report feelings of loneliness, compared to 55% of non-parents. (Cigna 2021)
- Mothers are more likely to be lonely than fathers (69% vs. 62%). (Cigna 2021)
- 77% of single parents are considered lonely. (Cigna 2021)
- 32% of new parents report feelings of isolation and loneliness with a baby in their arms. (Nestle)
- Parents of 0-5-year-olds are 35% more likely to feel lonely sometimes/often/always. (IPSOS 2021)
- Rural residents are less likely to be lonely compared to urban residents. (National Library of Medicine)
- Single people are more likely to be lonely than married people. (The World)
The impact of loneliness in the workplace
Loneliness in the workplace can result in distracted employees, lower productivity, and poor performance. This can negatively affect the business in the following ways:
- Loneliness costs employers more than a whopping $154 billion per annum in less productivity due to employee absenteeism. (Cigna, 2019)
- Lonely employees are more likely to miss more than five additional work days annually than those who are not lonely. (Cigna, 2019)
- In addition, lonely employees are likely to express the wish to quit their job within the next 12 months, nearly twice as likely as other workers (56.6% vs. 29.3%). (Cigna, 2019)
- Only 47% of lonely employees say they can be efficient at work, compared to 64% of non-lonely employees. On top of that, only 48% of lonely employees can perform at their peak, compared to 65% of non-lonely employees. (Cigna, 2021)
- 42% of lonely employees report being “mentally somewhere else” while at work. This number is more than twice that of employees who are not lonely. (Cigna, 2021)
- 21% of lonely employees express dissatisfaction with their job compared to 7% of those who are not. (Cigna, 2021)
According to Cigna Loneliness Index, 2020:
- 57% of remote workers say they always or sometimes feel alone. 52% of in-person office workers feel the same.
- The entertainment industry has the highest levels of loneliness. 62% of Americans in this industry (music, sports, publishing, etc.) report they always or sometimes feel lonely. In addition, 54% say they are not close to anyone.
- In contrast, those in the business services are the least lonely. 51% of those in this industry say they always or sometimes feel alone, and 40% have no close friends.
- 51% of entry-level employees are lonely. 57% of senior executives report feeling the same.
Loneliness among adults worldwide
According to an IPSOS survey that asked people around the globe how lonely they felt, the following are loneliness statistics for 29 countries:
- Brazil- 50%
- Turkey- 46%
- India- 43%
- Saudi Arabia- 43%
- Italy- 41%
- South Africa- 40%
- Malaysia- 39%
- Chile- 38%
- South Korea- 38%
- Peru- 37%
- France- 36%
- Argentina- 35%
- Great Britain- 34%
- Mexico- 34%
- Canada- 31%
- United States- 31%
- Australia- 30%
- Singapore- 30%
- Hungary- 29%
- Belgium- 28%
- Spain- 27%
- China- 26%
- Germany- 26%
- Russia- 25%
- Sweden- 25%
- Poland- 23%
- Japan- 16%
- Netherlands- 15%
Countries that registered the largest number of people who never or hardly ever feel lonely are:
- Netherlands- 55%
- Germany- 50%
- Russia- 49%
- Japan- 48%
Final thoughts: Loneliness statistics in America
These statistics show that loneliness is part of being human- even though the intensity and frequency may vary widely.
Gender, age, race, income, education level, social media, and life events can all impact the likelihood of feelings of loneliness at some point in life.
Depending on the intensity, loneliness can impact physical and mental health.
If you’re feeling lonely or alone, some tips to help you manage loneliness include; making new connections, trying support groups, therapy, and taking care of yourself.