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A Study on the Current Status of Social Loneliness and Isolation of Single-person Households in Seoul and Response Strategies

Seong-Ah Kim·Min-Jin Park·Jung-Ah Kim

As single-person households are rapidly increasing due to rapid aging, delayed marriage and declining fertility rates, and an increase in divorce rates, loneliness has been regarded as new social epidemics. The problem of social loneliness and isolation is no longer an individual problem, but a social problem, and it is necessary to prepare a policy to actively prevent it. This study aimed to analyze the rate of loneliness and social isolation of single-person households, categorize the problems of loneliness and social isolation of single-person households, and identify the characteristics of each type in order to provide basic data for single-person households.

Among single-person households in Seoul, the proportion of people with loneliness, social isolation, and depression were 62.1%, 13.6%, and 7.6%, respectively. Single-person households in Seoul are classified into four types according to the characteristics of loneliness, social isolation, and mental health problems: ‘loneliness group’, ‘isolation group’, ‘loneliness and depression group’ and ‘isolation and depression group’. As the sociodemographic characteristics and policy demands were different for each of the four types, strategies for coping with loneliness and isolation should also be different depending on the type. People who have only social problems such as loneliness and social isolation could be given support for social network formation, and those who have both social problems and mental health problems such as depression could receive professional counseling. According to the individual characteristics and policy needs of people, it can be provided to social prescriptions, and services can be supported or linked accordingly.

Based on the results of this study, it is proposed to respond to the loneliness and social isolation of single-person households through accurate diagnosis and customized social prescription. On the other hand, vulnerable single-person households with low access to the single-person household support center need to be linked with community-based public-private cooperation.