Ageing and loneliness: the role of mobility and the built environment

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The ageing of the population raises questions regarding the quality of life of future generations. This article focuses specifically on feelings of loneliness as an important aspect of quality of life in relation with mobility aspects and built environmental characteristics. Based on data collected in the southeast of the Netherlands among 344 respondents in 2014 four ordered logit models were estimated to explain the extent to which people feel lonely or socially isolated. The explanatory variables in the models are age; other personal and household characteristics; characteristics of the built environment and mobility aspects. The results indicate that, although age has little explanatory power, older people are likely to feel lonelier. Other personal and household characteristics, such as household composition, education, health status, being a volunteer and the number of social interactions are found to have more explanatory power. Characteristics of the built environment also explain a substantial part of variance in loneliness. Significant effects are found for living in an apartment, length of residence in the neighbourhood and satisfaction with the neighbourhood and its facilities. Finally, we find that the use of different transport modes (bicycle, car and public transport) significantly reduces loneliness.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)48-55
Number of pages8
JournalTravel Behaviour and Society
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • loneliness, social isolation, age, residential environment, transportation, mobility


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