Risk factors of loneliness across the life span

E. Hutten*, E.M.M. Jongen, K. Hajema, R.A.C. Ruiter, F. Hamers, A.E.R. Bos

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Although loneliness is typically associated with adolescence and old age, research has revealed that it is prevalent across the life span. The present study contributes to the loneliness literature by investigating a broad range of risk factors in a Dutch sample (N = 52,341) ranging from late adolescence to old age using a cross-sectional survey administered by the regional public health services in the province of Limburg in the Netherlands. Risk factors associated with higher levels of self-reported loneliness across the life span were being male, lower education levels, inadequacy of financial resources, mental health, informal caregiving that is experienced as burdensome, and limited social contact or network type. In addition, in early adulthood, having a non-western migration background and having a physical disability were associated with higher levels of loneliness, whereas living alone, having a non-western migration background, and not having a paid job were risk factors of loneliness in middle adulthood. In late adulthood, living alone and having a physical disability were associated with loneliness. The present study demonstrates that different stages of life are associated with different vulnerability factors of loneliness. Hence, the prevention of loneliness might require different interventions in different age groups.
Original languageEnglish
Article number02654075211059193
Pages (from-to)1482-1507
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Social and Personal Relationships
Issue number5
Early online date10 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - May 2022


  • Age
  • life span
  • loneliness
  • perceived social isolation
  • risk factors
  • AGE


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