Loneliness kills. Life without friends and family is not just dreary but difficult, especially as we get older.
Strong social relationships boost a person’s chances of staying alive by 50 percent, according to a comprehensive 2010 review of 148 studies that followed 309,000 people for an average of 7.5 years. That’s about the same improvement to mortality as the one that comes from quitting smoking.
It’s hard to say whether Americans are lonelier now than in the past. But they’re certainly more independent than ever. Almost half of U.S. adults are now single. Americans are waiting longer to get married, they’re having smaller families, and about half of all marriages still end in divorce.