Loneliness, housing and health in Australia (Essay)
SummaryThis Essay explores the issue of loneliness and its connection to housing and housing policy in Australia and how this impacts on people’s health.
Project Number: 40601
Research Theme: Health_ageing_and_disability, Social_wellbeing
Project Leader: Franklin, Adrian
Funding Year: 2010
Research Centre: Southern
Loneliness is an emerging issue in contemporary societies. Overseas studies have shown that loneliness is not related to the quantity of social contact, but rather the quality of social bonds enacted and maintained (see Putnam 2000; Bauman 2003), and loneliness comes about from the absence of social relationships that deliver a sense of belonging (Mellor 2008).
Data from the Australian Survey of Social Attitudes suggests that loneliness is a significant issue in Australia, with 35 per cent of men and 29 per cent of women reporting that loneliness was a serious problem for them. On average, these people report being twice as unhealthy as those who are not lonely. Loneliness is an issue across age groups and genders, but certain groups such as divorced or separated men, single parents and older people are particularly vulnerable when lonely, possibly because of a diminishing capacity to initiate or maintain social networks.
Various evidence suggests that housing can play an important role in developing social bonds and that this is revealed in the different rates of loneliness for people in different tenures, dwelling types and the spatial concentration of loneliness. For example, loneliness is particularly high among people living in single person dwellings, public housing and private rental housing. This suggests that housing policy has a role to play in addressing this significant issue.
Media mentioning this research
- Blueprint for future needs to address loneliness, says report — The Sydney Morning Herald, 27 Mar 2012
- Single mum is lonely no more, thanks to neighbourly initiative — The Age, 27 Mar 2012
- One is the loneliest number — Australian Ageing Agenda, 10 Mar 2011
- Research paper addresses hidden price of urban loneliness — The Australian, 8 Mar 2011
Final Report: No. 164: Housing, loneliness and health
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