Factors influencing loneliness levels of adults in England during the pandemic

Young man sitting at a table and thinking.

This project analyses data collected in the Community Life Survey (2020-2021), Understanding Society (Wave 11; 2019-2021), and the Understanding Society COVID-19 dataset (May 2020, November 2020 and March 2021) to explore experiences of loneliness amongst adults in England during the pandemic.

About the study

This focus of this research was to examine the factors associated with loneliness in adults in England during the pandemic.

You can download the full report or read a summary of our findings below. A technical note is also available.

This project was funded by the Department for Culture, Media & Sport.


  • Pre-pandemic predictors of chronic loneliness remained predictors of chronic loneliness during the pandemic.
    • Women, younger people, people with a disability and those who did not live with a partner were more likely to be chronically lonely.
    • The risk of chronic loneliness was higher for gay and lesbian, and bisexual people than for heterosexual people.
  • During the pandemic:
    • People who used the internet less than once a month were more likely to experience loneliness (measured indirectly) than people who used it every day.
    • The risk of loneliness (measured indirectly) was higher for Black people than White people.
    • Those living in households of three people or more were less likely to report chronic loneliness.
    • Close relationships played a significant role in reducing the odds of being chronically lonely during the pandemic.


This project involved secondary data analysis of the Understanding Society and Community Life Survey datasets.

Chronic loneliness is defined in the Community Life Survey as those who feel lonely “Often/Always”, and in Understanding Society as those who feel lonely “Often” (the word “always” does not appear in response options).

Loneliness was also measured indirectly (with a 3-item measure) by using a series of questions about companionship, isolation, and feeling left out.