Covid UK: More loneliness in urban areas during pandemic, says ONS

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People in cities and towns have felt more lonely during the Covid-19 crisis than their rural counterparts, official statistics show.

  • Data from the Office for National Statistics shows increasing loneliness during Covid
  • Loneliness was generally higher in urban areas than in rural areas
  • Areas with higher unemployment rates were generally more affected

Loneliness during the coronavirus crisis was lower in rural areas than in urban and industrial locations, official new statistics show.

Data from the Office for National Statistics showed that feelings of loneliness are more common in areas with high concentrations of younger people and higher unemployment rates.

People in areas with higher crime rates or with higher levels of anxiety were also more likely to report feeling lonely.

In general, the statistics showed that 7.2 percent of Britain’s adult population felt lonely ‘often or always’ between October 2020 and February 2021.

That’s the equivalent of about 3.7 million people – versus 2.6 million, or five percent of the population, between April and May 2020.

The percentage of people in urban areas who felt 'often' or 'always' lonely was 8.3 percent.  In rural areas this was 5.7 percent

The percentage of people in urban areas who felt ‘often’ or ‘always’ lonely was 8.3 percent. In rural areas this was 5.7 percent

Data from the Office for National Statistics showed that feelings of loneliness are more common in areas with high concentrations of younger people and higher unemployment rates

Data from the Office for National Statistics showed that feelings of loneliness are more common in areas with high concentrations of younger people and higher unemployment rates

Data from the Office for National Statistics showed that feelings of loneliness are more common in areas with high concentrations of younger people and higher unemployment rates

The percentage of people in urban areas who felt ‘often’ or ‘always’ lonely was 8.3 percent. In rural areas this was 5.7 percent.

North East England registered the highest loneliness rate of any region in England (8.7 percent), while East England scored the lowest (6.5 percent).

In Wales, 8.3 percent of adults surveyed said they felt lonely ‘often’ or ‘always’, compared to 7.3 percent in England and 6.5 percent in Scotland.

The ONS said places with a lower average age have generally experienced higher rates of loneliness during the pandemic, and that ‘higher rates of loneliness reported by young people are mainly associated with urban areas outside London’.

Living in a one-person household, relationship problems caused by the pandemic and having no one to talk to have also contributed to experiences of loneliness.

Figures for individual local authorities, where the sample size was large enough to ensure reliable estimates, show that Tameside (15.1 percent), Leicester (14.3 percent) and Stoke-on-Trent (13.7 percent) have the highest have loneliness rates in Britain.

They are followed by Sandwell (13.6 percent), Nottingham (12.8 percent) and Hull (12.5 percent). The sample size was too small for reliable estimates for local authorities in Scotland and Wales.

From October 2020 to February 2021, 38.6 percent (about 10.5 million people) of those who said their well-being had been affected by the pandemic in the past seven days said it was because they were lonely, the RVS said. .

Young people and singles were found to be the most affected by this seven-day measure, or ‘lockdown loneliness’.

Of those who said their well-being had been affected by the pandemic, someone aged 16 to 24 was about four times more likely to feel lonely in the past seven days than someone 75 or older, the US found.

Of those who said their well-being had been affected by the pandemic, the chance that someone 16 to 24 years old felt lonely in the past seven days was about four times that of someone 75 or older, the RVS found.

Of those who said their well-being had been affected by the pandemic, the chance that someone 16 to 24 years old felt lonely in the past seven days was about four times that of someone 75 or older, the RVS found.

Of those who said their well-being had been affected by the pandemic, the chance that someone 16 to 24 years old felt lonely in the past seven days was about four times that of someone 75 or older, the RVS found.

Unemployment was “one of the most important factors” mentioned by the RVS in their analysis.

Municipalities with higher unemployment had a higher percentage of residents who said they were often or always lonely, while in areas where residents earn more per week on average, loneliness rates were usually lower.

In contrast, areas with strong local businesses and adult education tended to have less loneliness, with London local authorities in particular benefiting from this way.

Places with lower crime rates showed lower levels of ‘lockdown loneliness’ in the five months since October 2020.

This was the case in rural areas that tended to have less loneliness than urban areas with higher crime rates, the ONS added.

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