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A Worldwide Loneliness Challenge

October 25, 2023

A new survey released this week indicates more than a quarter of people feel very or fairly lonely, representing more than a billion people worldwide.

The survey, released Tuesday, is part of an upcoming Gallup-Meta study that provides a broader glimpse at social connection and loneliness.

“In countries all over the world, millions of people experience loneliness in their daily lives,” the report notes. “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.”

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Overall:  About 24 percent of adults report feeling very/fairly; 27 percent are a little lonely; and 49 percent are not at all lonely.
  • Demographics:  Older adults (65 and older) had the lowest rates for loneliness, with only 17 percent feeling very or fairly lonely. Young adults between 19 and 29 had the highest rates, with 27 percent feeling very or fairly lonely.
    • Women and men were equally likely (24%) to report feeling very or fairly lonely.
  • Public health alert:  Earlier this year the U.S. surgeon general issued a warning about the rise of “loneliness, isolation, and lack of connection in our country.” 
    • The warning noted the amount of time people spent left alone increased about 24 hours per month from 2003 through 2020.
  • Notable:  The report captures 77 percent of the world’s adults, but does not include perspectives from China, which is the world’s second-most populous country.
  • Quotable:  “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 report notes.

The survey from Gallup-Meta includes responses from 142 countries and territories. Additional information is available online.