Americans are an increasingly lonely people, a new study has indicated.
According to the Survey Center on American Life, Americans today have fewer friends and talk to them less often than they did 30 years ago.
“Signs suggest that the role of friends in American social life is experiencing a pronounced decline,” the study said. “The May 2021 American Perspectives Survey finds that Americans report having fewer close friendships than they once did, talking to their friends less often, and relying less on their friends for personal support.”
The Survey Center based its findings on interviews with 2,019 Americans, aged 18 and up, from all 50 states and Washington, DC.
The results were concerning. Close to half of those surveyed – 49 per cent – said they only had three or fewer close friends.
Even more striking is how these numbers have changed over time. In 1990, 33 per cent of Americans said they had 10 or more close friends. Today, only 13 per cent say they do.
Meanwhile, the number of friendless Americans has surged. In 1990, only three per cent said they had no close friends at all. Today that number has risen to 12 per cent.
The study said the “most obvious culprit” behind such friendlessness was the Covid-19 pandemic, which has closed offices and other normal venues for socializing.
But the survey found other reasons as well.
“First, Americans are marrying later than ever and are more geographically mobile than in the past – two trends that are strongly associated with increasing rates of self-reported social isolation and feelings of loneliness,” the Survey Center said.
“Second, American parents are spending twice as much time with their children compared to previous generations, crowding out other types of relationships, including friendships.”
The third and “central” reason, however, was work.
“Americans are working longer hours and traveling more for work, which may come at the cost of maintaining and developing friendships,” the study said.
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