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Living Alone Can Be Deadly (nytimes.com)
133 points by montalbano 9 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 87 comments


"Living alone was not associated with dying prematurely for those in the highest socioeconomic group — the 19 percent of study participants who had a university degree or worked in an executive position. But for the rest, the lower the socioeconomic status, the higher the risk for death. The authors emphasize that the remaining 81 percent of the population was not deprived or living in poverty, but consisted mainly of middle-class and skilled and unskilled workers."

Socioeconomic class moderates mortality even among the loners? That's not unexpected.

That said, I wonder if Danish society contributes particularly to loneliness. Most happiness studies (a trend in recent years) place Denmark at the top of happiness indices, but my understanding is happiness in this context often doesn't reflect an emotional well-being among individuals, only a quantitative aggregate one. Much has been said about the Danish concept of hygge (cozyness) but Scandinavian life in general is very privatized. I wonder if Danish social connectedness metrics are perhaps not so stellar.

I had a long conversation at a hostel in Denmark with a Danish reporter whose opinion was that the metrics of Denmark as being a happy place are completely misleading, and that modern Danish society was deeply lonely.

It's fuzzy because it was a few years ago, but I remember she said that it's common for young Danish people to move to the city when they become adults and completely lose touch with their families, and that social relationships at least in Copenhagen tended to be unfulfilling and superficial.

Entirely hearsay. I'd be curious to hear other perspectives. (She was also older than the millennial generation, so may have been out of touch herself.)

As a Dane, here's some observations:

You don't ever talk to strangers. If you do, its superficial, or e.g. something crazy is taking place in a public space you can't avoid commenting on. So if you're not good at striking up conversation or don't look friendly, you'll simply never meet new people. No-one will talk to you unprovoked, ever.

Therefore, most Danes are only in a single close-knit group with their friends from school, since it's really the only place where you are forced to meet new people. As a result of this, it's extremely hard to "break in" to a new group of friends if you've for example moved to Denmark from another country or just moved to another city.

I suspect most Danes find social gratification through work. We're good at keeping a cosy working culture which involves lots and lots of cake (and alcohol, at parties.)

Most Danes I know maybe talk to one or two friends regularly and are totally content with that. Myself, I only regularly talk to my parents and my work mates – the rest have steadily disappeared from my life.

This is mostly true in Los Angeles as well, you won't make any lasting friends in public. There are ways around it though, e.g. going to meetups of various sorts, taking a dance class, etc. Still have to work hard to get over the hump though.

I blame the 40 hour work week with rigid requirements on time/location. 8-10 hours of a day are basically the entirety of the hours someone has to not be tending to chores and other commitments. This would probably be helped by a UBI.

It is true in every city in the U.S. I don't think anyone makes their friends bumping into people around town. You need common context and regular interaction to make friends.

Sounds like Singapore too. I guess it’s the same for many metropolitan cities.

I observed the same behavior in Sweden. Spent ~1 year there, and it was really difficult to make new friends outside of work.

This might look bleak to most. But to some really introverted people, it is paradise!

Gladly when I moved to Scandinavia I was very interested in pickup and NLP. To my surprise, what I discovered is that lack of social "practice" makes people very susceptible to "sales tricks".

So what I found out is that most women in Scandinavia preached one thing, but had no problem throwing their principals out the gate just to get what they want. Wich in term point me to the conclusion that they have urges that the social system does not satisfy.

But here is the funny thing that makes Scandinavians truly unique. It is possible to have sex with someone, and have a great time, only for them to completely avoid you if they cross you randomly on the street.

Sounds about right. Check out how people most commonly "party" there too: they binge drink to oblivion on the weekends.

>Most happiness studies (a trend in recent years) place Denmark at the top of happiness indices...

I wonder if the "happiness" part is a misnomer and should actually be "contentment". Having experienced the Nordic/Scandinavian cutlures, myself (Sweden), they are pretty private but it's not impossible to have a social life - compared to, say, Ireland. I think the general demeanor of Scandinavians is pretty jovial but this also seems to be geographically-dependent (e.g.: city versus "country").

All of that being said, it's no surprise that the more money you have, the longer you live. I have a suspicion that it is related to the lesser amounts of stressors regarding to any fiscal matters.

(Not saying that no one stresses about fiscal matters in that 19% but if it is due to fewer fiscal stressors, then it might be worth noting.)

I wonder what the break-down of the cardiovascular health group is...

Yes, I agree. I think "contentment" is definitely a much more accurate term.

My origins are Canadian and I definitely understand the kind of quiet contentment where most people have all their basic needs met and then some; but living in an extroverted city in America (Chicago) where people are warm and friendly makes me think a substantial segment of the population here are emotionally happier and better connected, even though there's more crime, no free healthcare and fewer social services. The Latino population for instance appear to be somewhat happy and connected even though they have their fair share of struggles.

This isn't true of all of the U.S. -- northern states like Minnesota are definitely more austere and introverted. (Minnesota is also strongly Scandinavian)

Yes if you look at Scandinavian societies in isolation, they are happy people. The type of happiness you can feel for every minute that you do not freeze to death.

If we look at Scandinavian societies in comparison to the rest of the world and taking in consideration things like family, social connections, friendships, and general person to person connections, then you end up with a sad sad story.

Especially for an outsider living in Scandinavia. Basically one observes a pack of humanoid-like snow people that have a compeletly different value system from the rest of the world. Weak social and family relations, no morals outside of what is legal and not, and the worst of all is that they have the feeling that they are better. A lot can be told about these people by looking at their past.


Yes, I do live here and I do believe that "When in Rome...", but this is not Rome, it's like more like a zoo with golden toilets and snow monkeys.

Watch https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Swedish_Theory_of_Love

Ok, it’s not precisely the same country but they’re very close

I wonder if the reason for those survey results is not that the Danes are happiest, but that they complain the least.

Having someone else around to call an ambulance for you when you're having a heart attack can have a large effect on the outcome.

Having someone else around to nag you into going to the doctor when you otherwise might not go, etc.

Another thought along those lines, is that men tend to try and ignore discomfort. If a man gets a pain in his chest, he is likely to think to himself, "I'll wait and see if it gets worse!" If the same man is living with someone, he might say to them, "I have a slight pain right here!" pointing to his chest. Then that person would begin to pressure him to have it checked.

It's even worse when you get chest pain periodically but it's not a heart attack, and gone to the emergency room and paid the money for it multiple times, and they just tell you that you didn't have a heart attack, it's probably something musculoskeletal or heart burn, tell you to go home and take some Prilosec.

I went to the ER three times last year because of these pains (and one time several years before that). The last three or four times it happened since then I just stayed at home and tried to relax. But it scares the hell out of me that one of these times it could be more than that, and I'll choose not to go to the ER and that'll be the one that kills me.

It wasn't always just chest pain either, I had other symptoms, like a weak left arm, lightheaded, short of breath, pain in other areas of my body as well, heart beating really fast, etc. Common heart attack symptoms, and now I don't know if I should go or not when it happens again. Even my girlfriend is skeptical when I tell her I'm feeling this way now.

I can relate. I had a couple of bouts of chest pain/could be panic attacks/could be anything in the last couple of years. I think it might be connected with my blood pressure medicine, but again the real problem is that it could be anything. Not having had a heart attack before, one doesn't know what it feels like, so you're left wondering, "It that what it feels like?" I've been very healthy all my life and so when something suddenly isn't right, it's so surprising. All the time I'm thinking, "Well, why all of a sudden now?"

The one thing I can say is that the worry itself seems to make things about a million times worse. I've made a big effort to remove stress from my life and it seems to have helped. With my medicine, I had to explain to my doctor that "10% chance of side effect X" doesn't mean that it's very unlikely that the side effect I'm having is from the medicine -- rather that he should expect that 10% of his patients taking the medicine will get that side effect from it. Amazing, but he'd never realised that before. Now he's a lot more cooperative about choosing medicine that doesn't cause serious problems :-).

I think a big part, though, is that having a belief that you are healthy makes a big difference in how you interpret problems with your body. For me, once I got things checked out I reasoned that the chance that they've made a mistake is quite small. So while I may have a symptom it does not necessarily follow that I have a serious problem. Getting it checked out is important, but once you have, then worrying is only likely to make you ill. So far that's worked well for me. YMMV.

(But as you say -- still scary as hell if you think about it too much...)

And then you have celebrities like Kevin Smith that tell their having a heart attack story and say 'it just felt like I was a little out of breath, but they said my Widowmaker artery was 80% blocked and if they didn't operate right away I would die.', and I'm like 'I have asthma. I often feel like I'm "a little short of breath". If that's the only symptom I get, I'm screwed!'

I am not eating healthy enough or exercising anywhere near enough still to feel confident enough that I'm healthy. I need to course correct for that. Work really hasn't helped lately. A lot of late nights and stress, and my willpower goes to shit when I'm stressed.

Have you talked to a cardiologist? If not, you should. You might end up doing a stress test or an echocardiogram, and ruling out or confirming various possibilities. You might end up getting prescriptions for medications that you can use when you're feeling that sort of pain.

Also, while I hesitate to recommend calling EMS out unnecessarily, you may refuse transport to the hospital even if you've called 911 for a possible emergency, in the U.S. Paramedics can do an EKG, and while hospitals can additionally use bloodwork to rule out tissue death, you could make the choice to refuse further medical treatment once the paramedics have seen no signs of a heart attack.

I do have a stress test I got my Primary Care doctor to write up that I need to schedule sometime soon.

I went to a cardiologist a few years ago, but basically he had me do a stress test and an EKG, said 'you're fine', told me to exercise 7 days a week!? for a year (like no day off, no guidance on how intense it should be, just that comment), and wanted me to see him again a year later. It didn't leave a good taste in my mouth and I didn't go back.

They did a bunch of EKGs during my episodes at the ER and they all came back normal, so I think I just need to do the stress test, for now. I had an echocardiogram done when I first went to the hospital for this a few years ago, and that was normal also.

I actually paid $100 for a trip to the emergency room with this strange pain under my left pectoral and got told they couldn't a damn thing, probably just muscle pain. I think its related to how much I'm seated throughout the day.

Wait what? I would expect an emergency room trip in the US to be $1,000 - $10,000 particularly somewhere like S.F., especially since most emergency room visits are to the nearest hospital which could be out-of-network.

It varies by hospital and insurance. One of my visits to ER was $1300. Once I moved to the next town over a couple months later, the other two ER visits to a different hospital were $650 each.

BUT, that $1300 really caught me by surprise because about five years ago I had gone to the same hospital, for the same thing, and let myself be admitted to stay overnight for more tests, and that only cost me $450 ($150 copay and $300 for a doctor that visited during that).

And yeah, that's one reason why I hesitate to go to ER now. Having to pay about $4000 for a few ER visits and a few extra tests afterwards that all came back negative was not my idea of a fun way to spend money that summer (fun fact, I also had to pay $4000 in car repairs that same summer. It was a fun summer).

It's not just pressure but peer support. If you're alone and you got chest pain. You might have anxiety that doctor will say nothing is wrong and that's embarrassing for some.

That’s not a male exclusive trait or even generalizable rule. Headache sufferers (often or mostly? women) tend to “wait and see” with their pain, for instance. It’s a character trait and also knowledge based. For headache sufferers, it, for me, is just giving in to the inevitable-it’s fast to exhaust the pain management options. A nurse is in a position to know more about the difference between aches and pains and true emergencies. But even that’s not a rule. My medical family definitely ignored a lot of my health issues growing up because of their backgrounds. My dad heated a scalpel over a flame and dig into my thumb for a splinter when I was 5. (He let it cool, but still.)

> Having someone else around to call an ambulance for you when you're having a heart attack can have a large effect on the outcome.

This was my first thought as well when I saw the study. The study doesn't really indicate if deaths are do to this factor or to other longer term factors. I wonder how much of the study (and it might not be much) can be explained by not having someone around to call 911. Or if you are living alone not having something like life alert. Additionally, something like life alert does not always help. Falls is a major issue for older populations, and if you are knocked out because of a fall (or fall because you passed out) having someone to call an ambulance is critical.

> Having someone else around to call an ambulance for you when you're having a heart attack can have a large effect on the outcome.

So, Apple Watch or similar tech?

I expect vitals monitoring to become more commonplace. It doesn't help with your second example, though.

>So, Apple Watch or similar tech?

The misery of the one who cares for you at that moment being a smartwatch is enough to cut years off ones life.

I can imagine a time (not there yet) when -- if lifelike android companions existed, and I had one -- I could forget that it wasn't human. Especially if it nagged me about stuff.

More realistically, I can imagine that about a homecare worker.

Having someone else around that is stressful and may cause a heart attack, instigate or help perpetuate bad habits, etc, probably not so helpful.

not fond of this but people were designing smart floor to detect falls and call for help

about the latter... I know doctors don't like when people inflates tiny issues but I've seen a few people die because they didn't listen to naggers around them

Having someone else around who's a negative influence on dietary, entertainment, and general physical activity choices can have a large effect on the probability you'll need an ambulance.

Having someone else around who's a positive influence on dietary, entertainment, and general physical activity choices can have a large effect on the probability you'll need an ambulance.

Sure, and the other half of that pair is being harmed by the imbalance.

Finding parity is quite difficult, particularly when you already take good care of yourself.

Social interaction and co-habitation is not a zero-sum game. I'm sure we're both working from our own personal experience here, but for me I've always found living with a room-mate or significant other to be a net positive for both parties. It's easier to cook healthy home meals for two then one, both in terms of purchasing/portioning and the ability to split up or alternate the work. It's easier to not skip workouts or social events when you hold each other accountable for them. The mental and emotional stimulation that comes from having someone else to talk to and do things with rather than passively consuming mass media alone.

Sure, it's possible for someone with bad personal habits to be a negative influence on someone who struggles to maintain their own good habits, but two people with generally good habits can easily create positive feedback that allows them both to improve.

> Finding parity is quite difficult, particularly when you already take good care of yourself.

My wife and I have actually driven each other to be better than either of us alone ever were. We're fitter and healthier than we ever were, and it's largely because on nights I don't want to go the gym she does - we act as each-others champions.

Also, it's surprising to find out the things you don't about yourself until you see it through another person's eyes.

I hope you appreciate how exceptional a situation that is.

Statistically speaking, 75%+ of the adults in the US are overweight. That is the pool being drawn from.

So when you're not in the overweight majority, and have no interest in cohabitating with an overweight person who presumably lives a lifestyle contributing to being overweight, you already have just 25% or less of the population to pick from.

Now you need to find within that fraction someone you actually like as a person, who doesn't have any of the other unhealthy habits unrelated to being overweight you want nothing to do with.

You sound like you've made up your mind to make negative assumptions about others. You might be able to draw on statistics, even, in support of that. But the idea that 75% of the pool isn't eligible as far as you're concerned doesn't make the situation exceptional. Two overweight people could still cheer each other on. Or an overweight person and a non-overweight person could cheer each other on to different goals.

Your biases seem to be driving your views more than your supposed rationality, at least on this issue.

My wife and I both started overweight. I don't know why you think that being with an overweight person will drag you down. Sure, you may gain some initial chub as a lot of people in relationships do, but as the article indicates, the fact that you're not alone is probably going to do more for your life expectancy than those 10 lbs.

The article is pseudo-scientific nonsense, it doesn't prove any causal relationships, it's just observing a correlation.

There are plenty of obvious reasons people likely to die young would end up alone. It's natural to not be attracted to people likely to die young, it's a behavior our evolution has selected for.

We're not attracted to sick-looking people, for example.

I think the arguments for attraction based upon evolution are weak, otherwise we wouldn't see what we like changing with society. Evolution would demand there's major biological components there, but our preferences as a society swing far too fast for biological determinism to be at play.

That's cool if you set your standards extraordinarily high and you can't find someone because of it, but don't blame evolution, realize you set those standards.

You're either willfully putting words in my mouth, or simply failing at reading comprehension.

I'm pointing out obvious reasons people who die prematurely would also be alone, pointing out obvious flaws with the article's unscientific claims.

People who are sick are less attractive to the opposite sex, this is a deeply-rooted evolutionary trait. I'm saying this in reference to one of many obvious reasons people destined to die early also are alone. Few want to date or live with seriously ill people. They're arguably not dying young because they're alone, they're alone because they're sick and likely to die young.

I made no such claim that evolution explains my personal choices on this topic as it pertains to my life, no sir, I proudly own those 100%.

> People who are sick are less attractive to the opposite sex, this is a deeply-rooted evolutionary trait.

My argument is that "evolutionary attraction" isn't actually a phenomena. Our interests have swung wildly from valuing huge to tiny and from pale to tan all due to cultural shifts, not because of an innate inbuilt evolutionary mechanism - there was no filtering of genes due to these features. Heroin chic was a thing, and that's downright sickly.

Hopefully you realized that person is a negative influence way before you decided to live with them.

I don't know... this feels like yet another article abusing statistics to generate a headline. There are just so many factors that could have a high comorbidity.

The bigger issue I see is not living alone, but living without a social net -- I personally really enjoy living alone, but I also have regular social gatherings in my life.

> The bigger issue I see is not living alone, but living without a social net

Anecdotal, but my grandfather insisted on living alone - he drove, went to the bar and hung out with his friends every single day, and someone in our family would either visit him or talk to him on the phone a few times a week - in other words, a social net.

He insisted on his independence and liked his space, so we didn't harass him every single day even though he only lived 15 minutes away.

One evening, he fell down and couldn't get to the phone. He was on the floor for probably just 36 hours before we found out and called the ambulance. He died a few days later in the hospital, having never fully emerged from his diabetic coma.

We thought that checking in with him every other day was enough, but it was not.

Be careful.

Anecdotal, but a friend of mine died because he had a seizure at home and no one stopped by to check in for over a day. If he had a housemate, he would have been far more likely to be found and rescued.

As a single father of two teenagers who is - according to my kids - doing a good job, it’s almost like I’m societies worst nightmare. The idea that men could bring up children alone seems to terrify people, I assume because it puts a bunch of social norms in question like “every man must have a woman in his life or he’s going to self-destruct”.

I don't think that goes against the premise of the article though, having two teenagers (or any child over... 7ish?) negates a lot of the risk of having a sudden heart attack and being unable to get yourself timely care or finding yourself socially isolated. Your relationship with your teenagers isn't going to fill the same space as an S.O. or even a close friend, but having social interaction is important for other reasons, and your interactions with them will fulfill that need.

A few years ago there was an extremely broad study of all males living within a town, totalling 900 men in all. They monitored orgasm frequency over decades. As a result they were able to show that those who were below average in their orgasm frequency had a 50% higher chance of dying from any cause. That was alongside all sorts of findings about the general health dangers of abstinence. I imagine there is likely a pretty strong correlation between those who live alone and those who are starved for orgasm.

> I imagine there is likely a pretty strong correlation between those who live alone and those who are starved for orgasm.

I don't think that correlation works like you think it works.

Is there a link to this study that I could review? Ive tried googling it but I would really like to review this study.

63 to 95 years old? Hell, the first month I moved cross-country (at 22) I got really, really sick and couldn't get out of bed to buy groceries. After the third day I considered asking my estranged dad (who I was getting away from) to fly cross the country, or asking my landlord for help, or calling the hospital or 911. I literally had NO idea what to do. I wasn't dying I just couldn't stand up without barfing or getting dizzy.

It was incredibly scary for a young kid trying to find a job and start a new life. I immediately saw the value in the door-to-door checkup services for the elderly.

I think this is one of the cases where observing past and using it to predict future adds a bias that's no longer valid these days. Most people I know that are alone seem to be happy, the ones in relationships seem a mixed bag (some oscillating between high highs and low lows). Again, there is surely bias among people I meet (I can't make a stratified dataset with perfectly balanced classes), though it might be an indicator that socioeconomic and health conditions changed dramatically recently, invalidating long-term trends.

An anecdatum from the flu thread on Reddit:

"3 years ago, my sister found me unresponsive covered in my own vomit and shit in my bed. Called 911 and my life was saved. All I had was the flu, but it had caused brain swelling. The last thing I remember was going to sleep the night before, feeling perfectly fine.

The ONLY reason I'm alive is because I was supposed to dog-sit for my sister's best friend starting that day. When she couldn't get a hold of me, she notified my sister, who came to my house to check on me."

> “It’s paradoxical that the more we live in concentrated populations in big cities, the more people are living alone” said the lead author, Dr. Magnus T. Jensen

How is that in any way paradoxical? High density living causes people to subconsciously value individual connections less as they are surrounded by people in their day to day lives. This causes them to seek out alone time because their bodies are fatigued from the constant interaction. And causes them to have less social energy to devote to the people close to them.

High density living performs the same trick on the brain that social media does. It fools a persons mind into thinking they are not alone, but in reality they are actually spending all of that time without individual close human connection. In reality they are spending all of their time alone. Along with that comes all physiological aspects of that constant alone time. Things like depression and general lack of emotional depth that we know has a significant effect on life expectancy.

I think it's less that and more so that those who buy large houses in the low-density outskirts simply have extra rooms for elder parents/divorcing relatives/recently graduated children/homeless friends/etc.

>High density living causes people to subconsciously value individual connections less

That doesn't sound right to me - what makes you say that?

It’s called helping each other, you can extrapolate from there

I've found it very difficult to find people to cohabitate with who aren't bringing down the living standards important to me. From long-term girlfriends to random folks I shared rent with when I was in the SF Bay area, it has always been a regression from what I have living alone.

What are these living standards?

Bay area is one of the worst places to find a girlfriend though, so if this is important for you, you need to move to a place with different supply/demand balance.

> What are these living standards?

I'm not going to document them here in any significant detail.

Just requiring things like no drugs, including alcohol, or junk food including sweets / sodas / baked goods / ice cream be kept in the home where conveniently accessible already eliminates the vast majority of Americans in my experience.

If I were to exhaustively write down the common disparities WRT my standards this would turn into a short novel.

I'm no longer in the Bay area. Most of my relationship experience happened prior to living the Bay area, back in the midwest. You're right about the Bay area being awful for finding a girlfriend, it's all dudes on the market. My Bay area experiences were more in the cohabitating context, splitting rent with randoms.

If I wanted a family it would be a very frustrating situation, and I would probably go to a different country honestly.

But I don't, so now I just watch in disbelief as most the friends I grew up with destroy themselves in unhealthy marriages where they can't even go on a kayak trip because it'd leave their partner alone. Or can't abstain from eating cake every other day because it'd offend their partner to reject something they made. Nope.

,,Or can't abstain from eating cake every other day because it'd offend their partner to reject something they made.''

This sounds crazy... though I'd never reject a cake that my girlfriend makes. She's a dietitian, 45kg (99 lbs) / 165cm, and I admire her discipline in restricting the amount of both fat and sugar in her diet (and the food she makes...you know cakes don't have to be that bad). She's my model for eating healthy.

At the same time I was 2-3 times in the U.S., and I went into a fast restaurant once, as I didn't know where I should go to eat (later I found out about Whole foods, that was my go to fast food location).

What was really funny for me, that you could buy 1l of coke, and you could refill it for free. I thought it's just marketing, as I wouldn't imagine any person being able to drink more than 1l of that sh*t. Guess what, I was disproved in 5 minutes. I mean do people really hate living that much in the U.S.?

It is crazy, codependent relationships are the worst and incredibly common.

But I don't think that particular "eat what I cook or I'm upset" phenomenon is unique to the US. My mother, an Italian, would overfeed everyone within reach and lose her mind if turned down. The food was delicious, but absolutely not healthy in either nutrition or quantity. Her worth in life was almost entirely defined by her traditional cooking.

There's a common form of relationship which exists almost entirely around shared experiences of eating "comfort food", which is really just foods that poke the reward centers of the brain. This literally becomes the foundation of all happiness between the couple. The food is no different from a shared drug addiction between two addicts.

I don't know about the GP, but it's shocking how poorly many people pick up their things after themselves, leave messes in common areas, etc. I don't miss having roommates at all.

I see, yes, that's something important to filter for. Also having a cleaning lady is critical when you're working at an office job.

Anyways I have a girlfriend who is much more organized than me, and she happily does things after me as well (in return I bring her to restaurants all the time, and paying for everything in our lives, as I have much higher income). If you find a great partner, life gets easier.

what will you do when she is tired of being a maid for food?

I'm travelling a lot, spending about half year every year separate from her. I usually go to hotels, use laundry service and have cleaning lady come multiple times per week.

I realized some time ago that I hate house work so much that it's just not worth for me to do it and leave it to other people who like it more than me. Also for me it takes about 3x the time to do the same house work as other people.

The great thing in specialization is that everybody does what he/she is good and efficient at and/or likes.

Removing the gender trigger words, having one partner look after domestic duties while one partner works is a perfectly healthy model for some people.

I've minimized my lifestyle so that it doesn't require a double income to sustain. Work becomes a choice instead of a burden.

Congratulations. If you have the slack to maximize these things, you're probably in the top tier of statistics of this study that get X'd out to make their point.

This leads me to this: it's interesting to think about which way the correlation goes - are these early deaths caused by living alone, or is it a symptom of other things wrong in their life that lead to a lack of girlfriends and random people and family in their life?

No doubt there's going to be some amount of men living exceptionally unhealthy lifestyles to the point of alienation.

Personal story:

When I first moved to the USA from India, 20 years ago, I sought the help of a realtor to find a house in New England Area. He figured I was earning more than his clientele base and started showing me houses which were secluded and touted it as a huge plus. My reaction then (now I am sympathetic to isolation as a luxury and privilege) was that he was showing me such dives because I was a minority. In India, you were never far away from people and isolation was a novelty that you dabbled with in your vacation time (mountain resorts and such). As life would have it, I ended up in Manhattan later in life.

"“It’s paradoxical that the more we live in concentrated populations in big cities, the more people are living alone ... Social isolation is a global problem"

Not paradoxical at all, considering the rash of entire old neighborhoods being torn down, to be replaced with exercise shoppes and bubble-tea shoppes and rectilinearly-architected enclaves of mere empty-headed dormitude. Faux-wood-trimmed concrete festooned with dark-blue surveillance knobs and plastic trees are fairly inadequate stand-ins for soul.

So ... how do we like this music, hmmm?

It seems odd this article concludes the solution to isolation is redesigning cities to force social interaction. Whereas the rich are more immune to the negative health effects of isolation.

Maybe instead the economy should be redesigned so the haves vs have nots isn’t so extreme and force social interaction amount the two groups. But most importantly this would combat the stress (cortisol) such a large segment of society has as a result of financial burdens and debt.

Are you sure it's proposing that cities force social interaction? Could it be a proposal to provide more options for living arrangements with a lot of social interaction, like group homes? Such arrangements do force interaction, but people would be choosing to put themselves in that situation, and would be able to get themselves out of the situation by simply moving to another apartment in the same city.

The news item is based on single study performed in single country of small size with 3346 men as sample set. Hardly representative.

This reminds me of the 'man eating alone' scene from The Lobster.

Remember the magical formula:

Correlation != Causation

Good point. But you know what proves causation ? Nothing.


Cause and effect are simple to discern with one variable (like pushing a ball), with multiple variables everything becomes increasingly complicated.

Kind of why drugs don't work in the same way with everyone. Too many subtle differences (blood type, chromosomes, dna, age, hormone levels, deficiencies etc.)

what is correlation and causation?

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