Capitalism causes loneliness

And colonialism.

And – to put it bluntly – if that’s what loneliness is, and capitalism and colonialism and related forces have damaged the quality of social life, is it any wonder so many of us feel lonely?

(PS this sounds bleak, and it is bleak – it’s bleak that 15-24 year olds are the loneliest age group in NZ+the UK, according to recent govt stats – but it’s not some coded expression of my own feelings. Just trying to think through why loneliness strikes a chord with so many.)

Capitalism and colonialism particularly afflict 15-24 year olds?

NZ stats here:

16.8% of 15-24 year olds felt lonely in last month (only thing that surprises me about that is that the figure isn’t higher).

UK figures (actually on 16-24 year olds) here:

Nothing on capitalism and colonialism in either of those sets of statistics. From the New Zealand social report:

Ethnic groups reported similar rates of loneliness in 2014. Those in the European/Other group had a reported rate of 13.2 percent, which was similar to the rate for Pacific peoples (13.5 percent). The rates for Māori and those in the Asian ethnic group were 16.6 percent and 16.7 percent respectively.

Not much difference there, and that Māori and Asian loneliness rates are slightly higher doesn’t fit with the colonialism claim.

There is some relationship between loneliness and poorness:

Incomes and wellbeing correlate with age, which isn’t surprising:

Figure SC5.2 – Proportion of population who reported feeling lonely all, most or some of the time during the last four weeks, by sex and age group, 2014

But most peeople who are lonely are only lonely some of the time or a little of the time, and there is no statistics on how that applies across the age ranges, so it’;s hard to read much from it.

Easier to just blame capitalism and colonialism without any corroboration.


  1. Alan Wilkinson

     /  November 10, 2018

    I expect there would be a correlation with joblessness and welfare too.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  November 10, 2018

      A more truthful statement is probably that the minimum wage causes loneliness.

  2. Kitty Catkin

     /  November 10, 2018

    What about older people who are left on their own and find that people back off as if being widowed was an infectious disease? That goes beyond loneliness and becomes isolation, Social isolation is literally a killer; it’s been estimated that it shortens life as much as smoking does.

    In one month four people were found dead who’d been dead for some time before they were discovered. Some time as in weeks.

    I suspect thal income is a red herring.

  3. The loneliness of young (15-24 year old) people could in part be simply attributed to transition to being in school for 12-13 years and then suddenly being out in the world away from the school crowd. Unemployment (higher among young people) will further isolate some of them

  4. Corky

     /  November 10, 2018

    I find young people don’t seem able to function on their own. In fact they talk of people being loners..not in the traditional sense, but in a sense they had no one with them at any given time.

  5. Blazer

     /  November 10, 2018

    old people are lonely.Young people generally have more friends ,and whittle them down as they age…acquaintances,family,work colleagues.
    By 50 if you have two real friends you are doing…well.

    • Corky

       /  November 10, 2018

      Thankgod Lurchy has RED. My dog Scrotus is only interested in me if I have something to give him, like food and a trip to the beach.

      I’m thinking about getting one of these for my old age.

  6. Ray

     /  November 10, 2018

    Presumably when you live in Socialist Paradise or even better a Communist one, all that time queuing for the staples of life gives you an opportunity to make friends for life, as long as they aren’t members of the secret police or stasi!
    But then there would be a chance make friends with your cell mates or other in your work detail.
    The whole concept is stupid.

    • Blazer

       /  November 10, 2018

      Forget the Stasi…so 70’s we have the GCSB to spy on you and your neighbours now Ray Ray!
      Nothing to hide,nothing to…fear’!
      Thanks…Honky Tonks.

  7. artcroft

     /  November 10, 2018

    Sheesh! So neo-liberalism isn’t the problem this week.

    • artcroft

       /  November 10, 2018

      Besides, we all know the real reason for every upset is the patriarchy.

  8. Beanie

     /  November 11, 2018

    Why are people still taking Max Harris seriously?