Nearly 25% of the world – over 1 billion people – feel “very” or “fairly” lonely, a new survey has found.

According to the new Gallup-Meta study, feelings of loneliness now pervade our planet.

The survey found that 24% of adults worldwide feel “very” or “fairly” lonely; 27% feel “a little lonely”; and 49% of adults feel “not at all lonely.”

Photo Credit: Gallup

However, Gallup notes the number of people worldwide who report feeling lonely could be much higher because the survey was not conducted in the China – the second-most populous country in the world.

Additionally, the survey examined the difference in reported feelings of loneliness between age groups.

There is a popular perception that elderly adults are the ones who experience the greatest degree of loneliness. The Gallup survey brings that narrative into question.

It found a 10-point gap in loneliness between younger and older adults, but it is younger Americans who report higher rates of loneliness.

Twenty-seven percent of adults aged 19-29 report feeling “very” or “fairly” lonely compared to just 17% of adults aged 65 or older.

Photo Credit: Gallup

“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,” Gallup reports.

The survey also found equal proportions of men and women are experiencing loneliness, with “24% of both men and women … feeling very or fairly lonely.”

Gallup concludes,

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.

Indeed, studies have repeatedly found a correlation between loneliness and negative health consequences.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, social isolation poses a “serious threat” to the mental and physical health of Americans. Social isolation and loneliness have been linked to increased risk for:

  • Heart disease and stroke.
  • Type 2 diabetes.
  • Depression and anxiety.
  • Addiction.
  • Suicidality and self-harm.
  • Dementia.
  • Earlier death.

As Christians, we believe men and women were created by God as relational beings. As relational creatures, we were designed to enjoy the company and comfort of others.

It’s a great irony that, in our age of social media – where the world is seemingly more connected than ever before – we’re also lonelier than ever before.

So, give God thanks for the family, friends and acquaintances in your life. Recognize those relationships – if they’re healthy – are not just good for us, but part of God’s very good design for you.

And if you’re struggling with loneliness, we at Focus on the Family would love to help you.

To speak with a family help specialist or request resources, please call us at 1-800-A-FAMILY (232-6459).

If you’re struggling and need a listening ear, Focus on the Family offers a free, one-time counseling consultation with a licensed or pastoral counselor. To request a counseling consultation, call 1-855-771-HELP (4357) or fill out our Counseling Consultation Request Form.

Related articles and resources:

Counseling Consultation & Referrals

Survey Finds Americans Increasingly Report Having No Close Friends – Especially Younger Men

The Loneliness Trap

Are You Lonely in Marriage?

How to Reconnect When You’re Lonely in Your Marriage

Loneliness Ends Where The Blessing Begins

Moving From Loneliness to Intimacy in Your Marriage

Focus on the Family: Loneliness

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