Abstract: (WITHDRAWN) Loneliness Among Young Adults: The Effect of Subjective Poverty, Social Support, Neighborhood Capital, and Online Social Networks (Society for Social Work and Research 24th Annual Conference - Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality)

298P (WITHDRAWN) Loneliness Among Young Adults: The Effect of Subjective Poverty, Social Support, Neighborhood Capital, and Online Social Networks

Friday, January 17, 2020
Marquis BR Salon 6 (ML 2) (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
* noted as presenting author
Tehila Refaeli, PhD, Lecturer and Head, Youth Studies, Ben Gurion University, Tel Aviv, Israel
Netta Achdut, PhD, Academic Faculty, Ben-Gurion University, Israel
Background and Purpose: Objective and subjective measures of poverty are determinants of mental health and other forms of well-being, including loneliness. A few studies also demonstrated that social capital negatively correlates with loneliness. However, most of what we know about inequality in loneliness, i.e., the poverty-loneliness association, is based on studies of older adults. Furthermore, little empirical work has examined how neighborhood capital affects loneliness. Taking a subjective social inequality approach to loneliness and presenting a comprehensive and updated measurement for social capital, we examined: (1) the associations between subjective feeling of poverty, off-line and on-line social capital, and neighborhood capital with loneliness among young adults (20-29); (2) whether social and neighborhood capital moderates the association between subjective poverty and loneliness.

Method: Cross-sectional data for individuals aged 20-29 were taken from the Israeli Social Survey for the year 2017 (N=1,508). Employing a direct approach to the measurement of loneliness and poverty, we used a single subjective item for each, comprising three final levels of feeling lonely (never; seldom; sometimes or often) and feeling poor (never, sometimes or infrequent, often). Social capital measures include connection with family and friends, self-perceived-support, self-perceived-trust and the use of on-line social networks. Neighborhood capital includes neighborhood relations, neighborhood safety, and suffering from noise and air pollution in the place of residence. Multinomial logit models estimated relations between subjective poverty, social and neighborhood capital with loneliness.

Results: Subjective feeling of poverty increases the risk of experiencing loneliness. Participants who often felt poor were more likely to be in the seldom-lonely group (OR=3.15) and were more likely to be among the sometimes-often-lonely group (OR=2.50) than in the never-lonely group. The same applied to participants who sometimes felt poor. The probability of being in the seldom-lonely group is decreased by greater off-line social capital (OR=.750) and greater neighborhood capital (OR=.845) and these factors further decrease the probability of being in the sometimes-often-lonely group (OR=.562 and .726, respectively), compared with the probability of never feeling lonely. Higher use of online social networks increases the risk to feel lonely seldomly (OR=1.15) and sometimes or often (OR=1.16). We found little evidence for moderation effect. 

Conclusion and implications: The prediction power of subjective poverty on loneliness is strong and self-contained among young adults. Greater social and neighborhood capital decreases loneliness in any frequency. Enhancement of off-line social capital within the close social environment, improving neighborhood relations, safety and other conditions, along with moderating the scope of use in online social networks, may help to reduce loneliness among young adults. Thus, interventions on both individual and neighborhood levels are recommended for preventing and reducing loneliness. However, these cannot act as a buffer against the strong effect of subjective feeling of poverty. Thus, combating poverty is essential for reducing loneliness and inequality in loneliness.