Although it has become commonplace to assume that measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus has caused people to feel more alone, Lyman Stone argues that available statistical evidence suggests that, in general, Americans report feeling no more lonely in 2020 than they did in 2019. But a closer look at the data reveals something else:
Married people were the least likely to describe themselves as lonely in 2019, and 2020 and saw no change in their reports of loneliness from 2019. Separated, cohabiting, and dating people all saw declines in their loneliness indices from 2019 to 2020—but loneliness rose slightly for people with no partner. While people with more children were less lonely than those with fewer or no children in 2019, this gradient became steeper in 2020: people with two or more children were less lonely in 2020 than in 2019, while people with one or no children were lonelier.
In other words, the least lonely people were those who were married with kids, and the loneliness gap between those people and childless singles (the loneliest people, by their own reports) grew wider between 2019 and 2020.
Moving beyond family, in terms of sexual partners, the least lonely people were those with precisely one reported sexual partner in the prior two years.
Combined with the lack of correlation between more sexual partners and loneliness, this suggests that the lower reports of loneliness among marrieds or parents is not simply related to having extra people around, but it is specifically related to having family around.