The fragmentation of the family is a general trend across New Zealand society. Fragmentation of the family increasing loneliness includes liberated women, later marriage, increasing divorce rates and single parents, and greater poverty from family breakdown.
The liberation of women is fantastic! However, it has side effects when it comes to family. Back in the 1960s, women traditionally stayed at home whilst men worked. This enabled women to hold the family unit together – with lots of social contact between spouses and with children. However, today, with both spouses typically working, there is less time for social connection between spouses and with children. This increases the risk of family dysfunction or breakdown.
Today, marriage or de facto arrangements are occurring later in life. This leads to children later in life, which extends the time between generations, reducing the size of the extended family. With a smaller extended family, there are less family members to support seniors in their later years.
Divorce and separation represent the fragmentation of the family unit. This not only leads to the loss of meaningful social connection between the spouses, but can lead to children having a weaker social connection with one of the spouses – weakening their social support network.
Single parents are time poor. They are so busy working (typically) and bringing up their children. There is little time left to build meaningful relationships. And with less meaningful relationships, there is a greater risk of loneliness – which is supported by the statistics.
Family breakdown is one of the main causes of poverty. Poverty is associated with loneliness. So family breakdown can, via poverty, lead to loneliness.
To explore other societal drivers of loneliness, please click the coloured box of interest.