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Solitary Time and Mental Health in the Netherlands

Abstract

Whereas prior research focused on the beneficial effects of time spent with others, this study investigated the association between solitary time and mental health by hypothesizing about the possible detriments as well as benefits. Additionally, we studied whether the association between solitary time and mental health was nonlinear and moderated by gender and life stage. We hypothesized that whereas solitary time limits individuals’ access to social resources and support (decreasing mental health), it also helps individuals to recharge (enhancing mental health). We used the Dutch Time Use Survey from 2006 (N = 1,487). Results of Tobit models indicated that more solitary time in leisure (but not household labor) was associated with a reduction in mental health. For men, we did find a negative association between alone time in household labor and mental health. There was no evidence for a curvilinear relationship between time alone and mental health, nor did life course stage appeared to moderate this association.

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Correspondence to Anne Roeters.

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Roeters, A., Cloïn, M. & van der Lippe, T. Solitary Time and Mental Health in the Netherlands. Soc Indic Res 119, 925–941 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11205-013-0523-4

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Keywords

  • Emotion work
  • Gender
  • Life course
  • Mental health
  • Time use