In the age of social media, no person is truly alone – online platforms on smartphones help them remain connected. However, one cannot deny the importance of socialising and meeting up with friends and family, especially after the pandemic hit the world. Research now suggests that besides mental health, socialising is desirable for economic growth as well.
Due to the new lifestyle and working trends, many individuals live alone without their families. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they feel lonely. 6% of the population under survey has reported being lonely, even when living with other people – according to research by Chiara Burlina and Andrés Rodríguez-Pose. The two different forms of solitude have varying effects on economic growth as well.
After empirically studying the European population from the 2010s, it has been found that more than 10% individuals live alone. The only exception is Berlin – where this number is as high as 50%. In regions with lower proportion of lonely people, economic growth is high. Various reasons can be attributed to it:
- Better mental health that boosts productivity of an individual.
- Exchange of knowledge and ideas takes place between individuals meeting with each other. Such an exchange generates new knowledge beneficial for the economy.
- Social capital is formed when people from different backgrounds and abilities work together and share ideas for achieving a common goal.
Thus, it can be rightly said that socialising is desirable for economic growth. But the positive impact of living alone cannot be ignored either.
It increases concentration which is necessary for working efficiently. Also, it is costly to live alone, thus generating a stream of expenditures not possible while living with other people.
Migration, urbanization, women participation in economic activities have caused more individuals to live alone. But instead of any negative impact, these have actually increased economic activities and growth in GDP.
However, too much aloneness is also harmful. People living alone are prone to depression, self-harm and suicide. They also put a burden on the health system of any country. Thus, opportunity cost of loneliness is high.
Now you know why loneliness affects economic growth. Thus, being social up to a limit – meeting with friends or relatives once in a week – is desirable. Too much socialising can again harm growth by reducing working hours and energy for doing anything productive.
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There are some exceptions to these trends – nerds or bookish people, who are averse to any type of social activity – also contribute to the GDP significantly. However, the above hypotheses are proven true through thorough statistical analysis and can be assumed to be correct for all sectors of the society.
Thus, keeping in mind the large economic benefits, the government can intervene to highlight the positive impacts of socialising and focus on the mental health of lonely individuals. This should be done not negating the advantages of living alone. Keeping a balance between the two should be the primary objective of the government to reap the benefits to the maximum.