Chiara Burlina, Andrés Rodríguez-Pose, 19 December 2021

Western countries are facing an ‘epidemic of solitude’. Though its impact on mental health has attracted considerable attention, little is known about its economic effects. This column distinguishes between two forms of solitude – loneliness and living alone – and studies their influence on the economic performance of European regions at the local level. Greater shares of people living alone drive economic growth, whereas an increase in loneliness has damaging economic consequences. Though the relationship is complex and non-linear, a region with more lonely people will experience lower aggregate economic growth.

Daniel Hamermesh, 19 November 2020

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed not only how people spend time, but with whom they spend it. Partnered people may be spending more time with a spouse or cohabitor while singles spend more time alone. This column investigates how these changes in time allocation might affect individual feelings of wellbeing. Time diaries from the US and the UK suggest that married couples compelled to spend more time together may experience increased happiness, while the crisis could take an emotional toll on unmarried individuals forced to spend more time alone.

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