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Why Loneliness Should Matter to Governments

Stashed in: Forever Alone

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It should matter to public leaders because loneliness powerfully impacts outcomes for their communities in three ways. First, it’s a risk factor for illness and early death. Second, the social expectations and judgments people make are generally more pessimistic when they are lonely. And finally, decreased social isolation is a required precondition for governments to successfully engage their citizens.That final point is leavened, albeit indirectly, throughout a new book by Stephen Goldsmith and Susan Crawford. Every disengagement by a group or an individual, they write in The Responsive City: Engaging Communities Through Data-Smart Governance, “removes part of the fabric that knits urban residents into a cohesive community. And that fabric is essential to the success of a city.” To underline that point, they cite research by the Knight Foundation showing that communities whose residents are better engaged with one another experience more economic growth.

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