I’ve long been interested in social capital – a concept that draws attention to the complex ways in which our social connections serve as a resource. For the third edition of my short book on the subject I added a section on loneliness, which I saw as a neglected aspect of social capital, as it demonstrates the negative effects of having too few – or too weak – connections with others.
Since then, debate over loneliness has attracted widespread attention. This week’s edition of the Lancet carries a strongly worded editorial on the subject, triggered by a new and authoritative report on the risks and costs – social as well as financial – of loneliness. As we move towards policies of ‘social distancing’ in response to Covid-19, I thought it well worth sharing.