How isolated do we feel?
More than a quarter (26 percent) of the Dutch population aged 15 and over reported they experienced some isolation in 2019, and 9 percent said they experienced severe isolation. The remaining 66 percent did not feel isolated, according to the 2019 Social cohesion & Well-being survey.
Over-75s most often experience some isolation
People of 75 years or older are more likely to feel some isolationnoot1 (33 percent) than people under the age of 75 (25 percent). In addition, 9 percent of over-75s feel severe isolation, equal to the average of all ages.
|Somewhat isolated||Severely isolated|
|15 to 24 yrs||25.2||9.0|
|25 to 34 yrs||24.6||7.9|
|35 to 44 yrs||22.8||10.9|
|45 to 54 yrs||26.1||8.6|
|55 to 64 yrs||26.0||8.0|
|65 to 74 yrs||24.7||7.8|
|75 yrs and over||32.9||8.8|
Severe social isolation more common
Severe isolation among 35 to 75‑year-olds is on average more common in the social arena (need for more social contacts) than in the emotional sphere (missing an emotionally close bond). Of this age group, 13 percent experience severe social isolation, and 7 percent experience severe emotional isolation. There is no difference between the two types of isolation among people under 35 and over 75.
|Severe social isolation||Severe emotional isolation|
|15 to 34 yrs||9.9||8|
|35 to 74 yrs||13.2||7.4|
|75 yrs and over||9.7||10.9|
Singles more often isolated
People living alone without a partner or children (14 percent) and single parents (15 percent) are more likely to experience severe isolation than people living with a partner (6 percent) or children living with their parents (8 percent). In particular they are more often socially isolated.
The State of Public Health and Carenoot2 includes a key figure on isolation, based on the Health Monitor held once every four years (most recently in 2016). The figures in this document are based on the Social cohesion and Well-being study conducted by CBS and relate to another age category (i.e. 15 years and over instead of 19 years and over). The study design and implementation are not entirely comparable.
This study uses an abbreviated form of the ‘Isolation scale’ by De Jong Gierveld (De Jong Gierveld and Van Tilburg, 2006). This scale approaches the concept of isolation as multidimensional, and a distinction is made between social and emotional isolation. The study respondents are offered 6 statements of which 3 are related to social isolation and 3 to emotional isolation.
The statements are as follows:
- I experience a general sense of emptiness.
- There are plenty of people I can lean on when I have problems.
- There are many people I can trust completely.
- I miss having people around.
- There are enough people I feel close to.
- I often feel rejected.
Respondents can answer ‘yes’, ‘to some extent’ or ‘no’ in response to these statements. In determining the scores on the scale and the degree of isolation, the guidelines of the developers of the scale were followed’ (De Jong Gierveld and Van Tilburg, 1999). More details can be found here.
The State of Public Health and Care
Website with key figures in the field of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, produced by eight collaborating organisations, including CBS.