Social Capital

Loneliness and isolation

Social connections are positively associated with individual and community health [2-5], while social isolation is associated with poor health [5]. Therefore, reducing social isolation is an important part of maintaining or building social capital. In the 2017 and 2018 Canterbury Wellbeing Survey, respondents were asked how often they had felt lonely or isolated over the past 12 months.

This indicator presents the proportion of those aged 18 years and over reporting feeling lonely or isolated always or most of the time, as reported in the Canterbury Wellbeing Survey 2017 and 2018.

The figure shows that between six and seven percent of respondents reported feeling lonely or isolated, always or most of the time, in greater Christchurch, in 2017 and 2018.

The figure shows the proportion of those respondents aged 18 years and over who reported feeling lonely or isolated, always or most of the time, in 2017 and 2018, for Christchurch City, Selwyn District, and Waimakariri District (7.4%, 3.5%, and 5%, respectively, in 2018). Respondents from Christchurch City reported the highest levels of social isolation in both 2017 and 2018 (statistically significantly higher than Selwyn District in 2018).

The figure shows the proportion of respondents who reported feeling lonely or isolated, always or most of the time, in 2017 and 2018, for European respondents, Māori respondents, and for Pacific/Asian/Indian respondents (6.2%, 13.1%, and 11.6%, respectively, in 2018). A lower proportion of European respondents reported social isolation compared with Māori and Pacific/Asian/Indian respondents, in both 2017 and 2018. The proportion for European respondents was statistically significantly lower in 2018. Note that these comparisons do not take into account possible confounders such as income or age.

The figure shows the proportion of respondents reporting feeling lonely or isolated, always or most of the time, by age group, in 2017 and 2018. The figure shows a clear pattern of higher levels of social isolation for young people. For respondents in the 18 to 24 years group, in particular, the self-reported level of social isolation has averaged approximately 8 percentage points above the other age groups in 2017 and 2018 (the difference between the youngest age group and all other age groups is statistically significant at both time-points).

The figure shows a pattern of generally similar levels of social isolation (proportion of respondents reporting feeling lonely or isolated, always or most of the time) for female respondents and male respondents in greater Christchurch, for 2017 and 2018 (no statistically significant differences by gender or over time).

The figure shows the proportion of respondents reporting feeling lonely or isolated, always or most of the time, by annual household income, in 2017 and 2018. The figure shows a clear pattern of higher levels of social isolation for those in the lowest income groups. For respondents in the <$30,000 group, in particular, the levels of self-reported social isolation have averaged approximately 7 percentage points above the other income groups, in 2017 and 2018.  The difference between the lowest income group and all other income groups is statistically significant at both time-points.

The figure shows statistically significantly higher levels of social isolation (the proportion of those respondents reporting feeling lonely or isolated, always or most of the time) for those with a long-term health condition or disability, compared with those without, in greater Christchurch, for 2017 and 2018.

Data Sources

Source: Canterbury District Health Board.
Survey/data set: Canterbury Wellbeing Survey to 2018. Access publicly available data from the Community and Public Health (Canterbury DHB) website www.cph.co.nz/your-health/wellbeing-survey/
Source data frequency: Annually.

View technical notes and data tables for this indicator.

Updated: 21/11/2018