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Determinants of Loneliness among Older Adults in Canada

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 February 2015

Jenny de Jong Gierveld*
Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute
Norah Keating
Department of Human Ecology, University of Alberta
Janet E. Fast
Department of Human Ecology, University of Alberta
*La correspondance et les demandes de tirés-à-part doivent être adressées à : / Correspondence and requests for offprints should be sent to: Jenny de Jong Gierveld, Ph.D. Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI) P.O. Box 11650 2502 AR The Hague, The Netherlands (


The purpose of this study was to determine the key determinants of loneliness of older Canadians. We drew on the assumptions concerning the importance of person-environment fit to test the relative importance of personal characteristics, deprived living conditions, social network/social engagement, and satisfaction in explaining loneliness. Data comprised a sample of 3,799 respondents over age 65 drawn from Statistics Canada’s General Social Survey, Cycle 22. Personal characteristics, social network size and composition, and satisfaction with network contact were found to be related to loneliness, as were indicators of living in economically and socially challenging conditions. Older adults who had experienced a recent downturn in their financial situation, and who lacked the help needed to cope with a recent personal challenge, reported higher levels of loneliness. A striking feature of our findings is the relatively low scores on loneliness of older Canadians compared to older adults in other countries.


L'objectif de cette étude était de découvrir les déterminants principaux de la solitude des Canadiens âgés. Nous avons tiré sur des hypothèses concernant l'importance de la concordance entre la personne et l'environnement pour tester l'importance relative des caractéristiques personnelles, des conditions de vie privées, du réseau social/engagement social, et de la plausibilité de l'explication de la solitude. Les données comprenaient un échantillon de 3 799 répondants âgés de plus de 65, tirées de l'Enquête sociale générale de Statistique Canada, Cycle 22. Les caractéristiques personnelles, la dimension et la composition des réseaux sociaux, et la satisfaction avec les contacts du réseau, tous sont révélés d'être liés à la solitude, de même que les indicateurs de vivre sous des conditions économiquement et socialement difficiles. Les personnes âgées qui ont connu un recul récente de leurs situations financières, et qui n'avaient pas l'aide nécessaire pour faire face à un défi personnel récente, ont déclaré des niveaux plus élevés de la solitude. Une caractéristique frappante de nos résultats, cependant, c'est les scores relativement faibles sur la solitude des Canadiens âgés par rapport aux personnes âgées dans d'autres pays.

Copyright © Canadian Association on Gerontology 2015 

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