Loneliness in New Zealand: Findings from the 2010 NZ General Social Survey
ISBN 978-0-478-40826-3 (online). Available at www.stats.govt.nz
The report is based on data from the New Zealand General Social Survey of 8,500 New Zealanders aged 15+ between April 2010 and March 2011. The report looked for associations between the survey's 'loneliness' question and other surveyed factors, using cumulative multinomial logistic regression. The 'loneliness' question asked asked people, in the last four weeks, how often have you felt isolated from others? The response options were:
• all of the time
• most of the time
• some of the time
• a little of the time
• none of the time.
Note that the 'loneliness' question does not ask if they felt lonely in the last four weeks (a question that replaced this question from the 2012 NZ General Social Survey onwards). For example, a farmer could feel isolated from others but not feel lonely. So the results need to be interpreted within this context.
The key findings of the report are:
• Younger people report higher levels of loneliness
• Mental health has a strong relationship with loneliness
• Older people’s economic standard of living has strong association with loneliness
• Recent migrants in mid-life are more likely to feel lonely
• Younger women and senior women are more likely to feel lonely than their corresponding male peers
• Young adults and midlife adults are more likely to feel lonely living alone than their peers living in households of four or more people
• Seniors who live in a two-person household are less likely to feel lonely than other household sizes
• People in midlife who felt discriminated against over the past year were more likely to feel lonely than those who had not felt discriminated against
• People who have not had face-to-face contact with their family and friends in the last week were more likely to feel lonely, compared with people who had contact with their family and friends.
"This analysis shows that there is a statistically significant association between the age of adult New Zealanders and the likelihood they have felt lonely in the last four weeks. Loneliness demonstrates a linear distribution, with adults aged under 30 years experiencing the highest levels of loneliness. Older people experienced the lowest levels of loneliness." "It should be noted that findings for social isolation could be quite different to those presented in this report. It is likely that there are reasons why some people feel lonely despite having lots of contact with family and friends, and on the other hand, reasons why some people don’t feel lonely despite limited social contact. This is a possible area for further research."