News

Rise in single people and private renters' increasing social fragmentation

The authors of the University Of Manchester study say it has profound implications for mental health provisions

A new study says social fragmentation is increasing in the UK – and cites the rises in single people and private renters as two of the primary causes.

Social fragmentation, the absence of connections between individuals and society, was defined by the team behind the University of Manchester study as the numbers of private renters, single people, migrants and one person households in a community.

The authors of the study, published in BMJ Open, say it has profound implications on mental health provision in England.

The group used data from the last two censuses and found an increase from 2001 to 2011, particularly in the north of England. The research found that in that period there was a 7.5 per cent increase in single people and a 90 per cent increase in privately rented households.

London, Yorkshire and Humber and the South Central had the largest increases in private renting. Similarly, the North East, West Midlands and West Midlands had the largest increases in single people. London, however, had the highest levels on both factors.

The increase in the numbers of young professionals, students and divorces over the period are likely to have contributed to the rising numbers of single people

Health economist and PHD student Christos Grigoroglou says the increases in private renting are likely to be a result of poor availability of social housing, unaffordable housing for ‘generation rent’, increasingly common short-term employment and rising student numbers.

And the increase in the numbers of young professionals, students and divorces over the period are likely to have contributed to the rising numbers of single people.

He said: “Private renting and single people have been long recognised as having an impact on social fragmentation – especially in mental health.

“Single people are also known to suffer from worse mental health outcomes. This study shows how these factors have become more prominent in recent years, impacting significantly on levels of social fragmentation.”

Data scientist Professor Evan Kontopantelis added: “Higher levels of social fragmentation have long been linked with suicide, self-harm, mental disorders, and psychiatric health service use.

“Therefore, understanding social fragmentation can be a powerful aid to the organisation of healthcare services, by identifying areas that need to be targeted from social and healthcare interventions.

“Of particular interest is mental health and interventions to improve it, since social fragmentation appears to be a salient risk factor for poor mental health.”

The study found that urban areas are more socially divided than the countryside – areas in Liverpool, Sheffield, Manchester and Leeds had the highest levels of social fragmentation in the country in 2011, while London had the most neighbourhoods ranking high in social fragmentation.

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
Building more social housing could save NHS and DWP billions – and add even more to UK's economy
a builder working on social housing
Social housing

Building more social housing could save NHS and DWP billions – and add even more to UK's economy

Junior doctors announce five-day strike right before the general election: 'We're fed up'
Strikes

Junior doctors announce five-day strike right before the general election: 'We're fed up'

'You live in fear': Leasehold homeowners share horror stories of nasty hidden fees and service charges
leasehold, michael gove
Leasehold

'You live in fear': Leasehold homeowners share horror stories of nasty hidden fees and service charges

Leaseholder rights: How to fight against rip-off service charges – a step-by-step guide
service charges, flats, UK
Leasehold

Leaseholder rights: How to fight against rip-off service charges – a step-by-step guide

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know