Loneliness Epidemic

May 5, 2023 • Volume 33, Issue 16
Can it be substantially abated?
By Alan Greenblatt


Large numbers of people are feeling lonely, both in the United States and around the world. This has been an issue for years, but isolation early in the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the problem, causing some to say loneliness is a public health epidemic. It has been associated with mental and physical health problems, including increased risk of dementia and premature death. Many of the ways people have historically gathered and shared community, such as through religious services, marriage, service club participation and child-rearing, have been declining for decades. Some are calling for a revival of these social institutions to help combat loneliness. At the same time, social media has grown in popularity, which some experts argue can trigger greater feelings of alienation rather than actual connection. Now, with nearly a third of the U.S. workforce still remote, there is concern that Americans may grow even more isolated. The issue has the attention of policymakers who want to help, but there is no one-size-fits-all solution.

Photo of four people on laptops at cafe in Brooklyn, New York, on January 28, 2020. (Getty Images/Robert Nickelsberg)
Patrons use their laptops at a cafe in Brooklyn, N.Y., in January 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the shutdown of such community gathering places, exacerbating what public health officials say is an epidemic of loneliness. (Getty Images/Robert Nickelsberg)
ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
May 05, 2023  Loneliness Epidemic
Aug. 03, 2018  Loneliness and Social Isolation
Feb. 12, 2010  Sleep Deprivation
Dec. 06, 2002  Homework Debate
Aug. 04, 1995  Job Stress
Jun. 23, 1995  Repetitive Stress Injuries
Aug. 14, 1992  Work, Family and Stress
Aug. 13, 1982  Pressures on Youth
Nov. 28, 1980  Stress Management
Jul. 15, 1970  Stress In Modern Life
Congress Actions
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Economic Analyses, Forecasts, and Statistics
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General Social Trends
Infectious Diseases
Internet and Social Media
Mental Health
Radio and Television
Religion and Education
Students and Social Life
Telecommunications and Wireless Technologies
Work and the Family