Original Investigation

European Journal of Ageing

, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp 103-115

First online:

Loneliness in urban neighbourhoods: an Anglo-Dutch comparison

  • Thomas ScharfAffiliated withCentre for Social Gerontology, Institute for Life Course Studies, Keele University Email author 
  • , Jenny de Jong GierveldAffiliated withNetherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI)Faculty of Social Sciences, VU University

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Past studies in the UK and the Netherlands indicate that loneliness varies significantly according to characteristics of older people’s residential environment. This raises questions regarding potential neighbourhood influences on individuals’ social relationships in later life. This article examines neighbourhood influences on loneliness, using multiple classification analysis on comparable empirical data collected in the UK and the Netherlands. UK data arise from a survey of 501 people aged 60+ in deprived neighbourhoods of three English cities. Netherlands data derive from the NESTOR Living Arrangements and Social Network survey, with a sub-sample of 3,508 people aged 60+ drawn from a nationally representative sample of older people, living in 11 municipalities. Both surveys incorporated the 11-item De Jong Gierveld Loneliness Scale. In addition to neighbourhood characteristics and indicators of health and social embeddedness, a typology of eight groups of persons was developed that accounted for individuals’ age, sex, and partner status. While 13% of participants in the UK were severely lonely, the proportion in the Netherlands was just four per cent. Mean loneliness scores in the UK varied significantly between the neighbourhoods under investigation. Additionally, the evaluated quality of the residential neighbourhood accounted for a relatively large degree of variance in loneliness in both countries.


Loneliness Urban neighbourhoods Cross-national comparison England The Netherlands