Alone in the Society

Project duration: 2015-
Funder: Kone Foundation
Project leader: Timo Anttila (Social and Public Policy, JY)


Alone in the Society project examines changes of social interaction within Finnish society since the 1970’s. Using longitudinal statistical methods based on a large amount of representatives of Finnish population, the project profits from a register-based follow-up data. Surveys on living conditions (collected by Statistic Finland 1986, 1994) are linked to the yearly register follow-up of the survey participants. This gives a possibility to elaborate both descriptive and explanatory analysis of the phenomena, like exploring causal effects between social isolation and income, health or mortality.   We distinguish between subjectively experienced loneliness from objective perceptions of being alone and social isolation. Loneliness and social isolation seem to have distinct trajectories to health and mortality. For example loneliness is linked to mental problems whereas social isolation has an effect on physical health and mortality.   Based on our studies, face-to-face connectedness has diminished remarkably during the last twenty years in the Finnish society. This may cause severe problems on welfare. When studying loneliness and lack of social relations as social problems, we explore the phenomena along with societal processes such as technological change, urbanization and temporal changes between work and leisure.