Busy lives, but lonely Britain

Busy lives, but lonely Britain

In our latest wave of 2,000 Uk adults we found that just under one in five (17%) describe themselves as lonely, up slightly on three years ago when one in six (15%) said they were lonely.

Although there may not have been a huge change among the population as a whole, it appears that the twenty-somethings are feeling ever more isolated with the proportion saying they are lonely rising from 23% to 31% over the last three years.

Lonely Britain

Perhaps even more interesting to highlight is that the older generation (70+), that many worried are often the ones alone in their old age, are in fact the least lonely.

Busy people can be lonely too

Although UK adults in their twenties say that they spend roughly the same amount of their leisure time on their own as older Brits (70+) (37% vs. 36%), it’s interesting that they are still three times as likely to say they want to spend more time on their own (33% vs. 9%).

In the context of the data above that shows they are also the most lonely, it paints a complicated picture where feeling alone may depend more on the quality of time you spend with others, rather than overall quantity of time.

Feeding into this issue is that when we asked respondents what they liked about spending time on their own, the most common answer from twenty-somethings was “it gives me time to think”, whereas the most common answer from all UK adults was because it actually allows them to do things they like to do.

Solitary activities

Aside from how lonely the different generations may or may not be, our research found that it is still common for Brits to do a whole range of activities alone which some might assume are usually done with others. For example, 40% of Brits say they eat breakfast alone most days of the week, while 30% say they eat dinner alone more often than not.

We also asked UK adults if they had done a series of activities alone in the past month, and found in one or two cases some interesting gender differences. Of course, most men and women had watched television or done the grocery shopping alone in the past month – both of which most Brits say is actually quite normal to do on your own. However, women were twice as likely to say that they had gone clothes shopping alone in the past month than men (48% vs. 25%).

Lonely Britain

Yet on the other hand, men were three times more likely to have gone to a bar or pub on their own than women (26% vs 8%), and noticeably more likely to have drunk alcohol alone at home (40% vs 28%).

Lonely Britain

Opinium Research carried out an online survey of 2,006 UK adults. Results have been weighted to nationally representative criteria. The research was conducted from 31st October to 3rd November 2014.