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Alone and lonely: the economic cost of solitude for regions in Europe

Burlina, Chiara and Rodríguez-Pose, Andrés ORCID: 0000-0002-8041-0856 (2023) Alone and lonely: the economic cost of solitude for regions in Europe. Environment and Planning A. ISSN 0308-518X

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Solitude is a rising phenomenon in the western world. The share of people affected by solitude has been rising for some time and the Covid-19 pandemic has further brought this trend to the fore. Yet, we know next to nothing about the aggregate subnational economic impact of the rise in solitude. In this paper we analyse the consequences of solitude on regional economic performance across Europe, distinguishing between two of its key dimensions: alone living, proxied by the regional share of single-person households and loneliness, proxied by the aggregate share of social interactions. We find that solitude has important implications for economic development, but that these go in different directions. While alone living is a substantial driver of economic growth across European regions, high shares of lonely people undermine it. The connection of loneliness with economic growth is, however, dependent on the frequency of in-person meetings, with large shares of the population meeting others socially on a weekly basis, alongside a small percentage of people who never meet others, yielding the best economic returns.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2023 The Author(s).
Divisions: Geography & Environment
Subjects: H Social Sciences
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
JEL classification: J - Labor and Demographic Economics > J1 - Demographic Economics > J12 - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
P - Economic Systems > P4 - Other Economic Systems > P48 - Political Economy; Legal Institutions; Property Rights
R - Urban, Rural, and Regional Economics > R2 - Household Analysis > R23 - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population
Date Deposited: 27 Mar 2023 10:33
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2023 17:32

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