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“The Social Recession: By the Numbers” by Anton Stjepan Cebalo

LessWrong (Curated)

Audio version of the posts shared in the LessWrong Curated newsletter.




This is a linkpost for https://novum.substack.com/p/social-recession-by-the-numbers

Fewer friends, relationships on the decline, delayed adulthood, trust at an all-time low, and many diseases of despair. The prognosis is not great.

One of the most discussed topics online recently has been friendships and loneliness. Ever since the infamous chart showing more people are not having sex than ever before first made the rounds, there’s been increased interest in the social state of things. Polling has demonstrated a marked decline in all spheres of social life, including close friends, intimate relationships, trust, labor participation, and community involvement. The trend looks to have worsened since the pandemic, although it will take some years before this is clearly established.

The decline comes alongside a documented rise in mental illness, diseases of despair, and poor health more generally. In August 2022, the CDC announced that U.S. life expectancy has fallen further and is now where it was in 1996. Contrast this to Western Europe, where it has largely rebounded to pre-pandemic numbers. Still, even before the pandemic, the years 2015-2017 saw the longest sustained decline in U.S. life expectancy since 1915-18. While my intended angle here is not health-related, general sociability is closely linked to health. The ongoing shift has been called the “friendship recession” or the “social recession.”