Friday, April 6, 2018

Are You Lonesome Tonight?

Erela Ganan

The Central Bureau of Statistics Social Survey for 2016 posed the following question to its respondents: "Are there situations in which you feel lonely?" While working on this weekly column I came across that question, and I wondered – would I have answered that question honestly? And on a government survey? Which of the four options (often, sometimes - from time to time, infrequently, never) would I have chosen? I'm still not sure, but in the meantime, this is what the existing data reveals…

Men in Tel Aviv are lonelier than men in Jerusalem; women in Jerusalem are lonelier than women in Tel Aviv
6.7% of the men in Tel Aviv often feel lonely, as opposed to 3.7% of the men in Jerusalem.
6.66% of the women in Jerusalem often feel lonely, as opposed to 5.94% of the women in Tel Aviv.

When you cluster the answers, the loneliness gaps by gender and by city blur – about 21% of the men in Jerusalem are often or occasionally lonely, similar to about 23% of the men in Tel Aviv. However, we learn that in general women feel lonelier than men do. About 80,000 women in Jerusalem (31%) and about 44,000 women in Tel Aviv (26%) feel lonely often or occasionally. The situation in Haifa isn't much happier: 20,500 of the men in Haifa (21%) feel lonely often or occasionally, as opposed to about 30,000 women in Haifa (27%).

To what is the sense of loneliness connected, among Jerusalemites?

I assumed that there would be a correspondence between the level of loneliness and the quality of family relationships. The Central Bureau of Statistics looks into this as well, and asks: Are you satisfied with your relationship with your relatives? There were insufficient respondents to the options that express dissatisfaction or complete dissatisfaction and so the sampling error doesn't allow for the presentation of the data, which means that I can't reinforce or rule out my assumption. Still, the 21% of the women in Jerusalem who report a frequent feeling of loneliness is comprised of 6.3% who are "very satisfied" with their family relationships, and 14% who are only "satisfied." Among the 31% of women in Jerusalem who feel lonely now and again, 8% are "very satisfied" and connected to their families, while 20% are only "satisfied."

And what of the family status of the respondents?

There is insufficient family status data about those who reported feeling a sense of loneliness "often." At the same time, from among the approximately 17% of Jerusalemites who are lonely "occasionally," about 12% are married, and about 5% are single. And among the approximately 24.4% of women in Jerusalem who are occasionally lonely, about 15% are married and about 5.4% are single.

And maybe, after all that, we can sum up and conclude that a sense of loneliness is part and parcel of feelings of human existence, and it's just as natural to feel loneliness as any other feeling. However, if you still feel overwhelmed, don't keep it to yourself – it's probably a good idea to seek help, or company...

Translated by Gilah Kahn

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