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Matthew Kaplan and Mariano Sánchez

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Juan López Doblas, Isabel Palomares-Linares and Mariano Sánchez Martínez

Loneliness is a social problem that has been typically associated to the subjective perception of a deficit in interpersonal relationships. Loneliness affects especially elderly people, and it is often associated with processes such as health decline or loss of a partner. Moreover, it has been found that in Europe the prevalence of loneliness is higher in Mediterranean than in Nordic countries, maybe because of material and cultural differences between them. However, so far southern European countries have not been specifically compared with each other to ascertain whether there are singularities in the way in which loneliness is affecting the elderly in these countries. Our study fills this information gap. Using secondary data from the sixth wave of SHARE (The Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe), we have found significant differences in the way loneliness affect people over 65 in Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal. This leads us to question global considerations about the countries of southern Europe regarding loneliness in older adults that prevail in the international literature.