Document Type


Date of Original Version



Health Studies


COVID-19 mitigation efforts had the potential to exacerbate loneliness among older adults, particularly for the unpartnered or childless, yet specific studies on loneliness among these groups during the COVID-19 pandemic are lacking. Using data from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) collected before (October 2019–March 2020) and during the pandemic (June–August 2020), we examine two loneliness outcomes: (1) “have you felt lonely recently?” (both datasets) and (2) “have you felt lonelier than before the pandemic?” (2020), and examine differences by partnership and parenthood status. Before COVID-19, those who lacked one tie but had the other (unpartnered parents or partnered childless) were at highest loneliness risk. During COVID-19, unpartnered and childless—especially unpartnered—remain at higher risk for loneliness, entering loneliness, and not “exiting” loneliness. We discuss these findings in light of family norms and needs in pandemic and non-pandemic times and provide recommendations for future research.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

European Journal of Ageing



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.