Susanne Bücker, Tobias Ebert, Friedrich Götz, Theresa Entringer, Maike Luhmann
In a Lonely Place: Investigating Regional Differences in Loneliness

Social Psychological and Personality Science, In Press: (publ. online before print)
ISSN: 1948-5506 (print), 1948-5514 (online)

Loneliness has traditionally been studied on the individual level. This study is one of the first to systematically describe and explaindifferences in loneliness on a fine-grained regional level. Using data from the nationally representative German Socio-EconomicPanel Study (N=17,602), we mapped the regional distribution of loneliness across Germany and examined whether regionaldifferences 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 werepositively related to loneliness. Individual-level characteristics, however, appeared to be more important in explaining variance inloneliness. In sum, loneliness varies across geographical regions, and these differences can partly be linked to characteristics ofthese regions. Our results may aid governments and public health care services to identify geographical areas most at risk ofloneliness and the resulting physical and mental health issues.