Are US older adults getting lonelier? Age, period, and cohort differences.

TitleAre US older adults getting lonelier? Age, period, and cohort differences.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsHawkley, LC, Wroblewski, K, Kaiser, T, Luhmann, M, L. Schumm, P
JournalPsychology and Aging
Pagination1144 - 1157
ISSN Number0882-7974
KeywordsAge differences, age–period–cohort effects, Aging, Baby Boom cohorts, civic engagement, Cohort Analysis, Community Involvement, Epidemics, Generational Differences, Living Alone, Loneliness, religious affiliation, Test Construction

Media portrayals of a loneliness 'epidemic' are premised on an increase in the proportion of people living alone and decreases in rates of civic engagement and religious affiliation over recent decades. However, loneliness is a subjective perception that does not correspond perfectly with objective social circumstances. In this study, we examined whether perceived loneliness is greater among the Baby Boomers—individuals born 1948–1965—relative to those born 1920–1947 and whether older adults have become lonelier over the past decade (2005–2016). We used data from the National Social Life, Health and Aging Project and from the Health and Retirement Study collected during 2005–2016 to estimate differences in loneliness associated with age, birth year, and survey time point. Overall, loneliness decreased with age through the early 70s, after which it increased. We found no evidence that loneliness is substantially higher among the Baby Boomers or that it has increased over the past decad

Citation Key2019-73776-00920191201