In a Lonely Place: Investigating Regional Differences in Loneliness.
Loneliness has traditionally been studied on the individual level. This study is one of the first to systematically describe and explain differences in loneliness on a fine-grained regional level. Using data from the nationally representative German Socio-Economic Panel Study (N = 17,602), we mapped the regional distribution of loneliness across Germany and examined whether regional differences in loneliness can be explained by both individual and regional characteristics. Perceived neighborhood relation, perceived distance to public parks and sport/leisure facilities as well as objective regional remoteness and population change were positively related to loneliness. Individual-level characteristics, however, appeared to be more important in explaining variance in loneliness. In sum, loneliness varies across geographical regions, and these differences can partly be linked to characteristics of these regions. Our results may aid governments and public health care services to identify geographical areas most at risk of loneliness and the resulting physical and mental health issues.