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July 19, 2021 9:54 am
This week on Family Policy Matters, we're bringing you a re-air of a show from April 2020 with Dr. Ryan Streeter of the American Enterprise Institute. Dr. Streeter discusses his article, “The Lonely (Political) Crowd," addressing connection between political involvement and loneliness.
Family policy matters and engaging and informative weekly radio show and podcast produced by the North Carolina family policy Council hi this is John Rustin presidency family were grateful to have you with us for this week's program is our prayer that you will be informed, encouraged and inspired by what you hear on family policy matters and that you will for better equipped to be a voice of persuasion for family values in your community, state and nation, and now here's our house to family policy matters Tracy to victory. Thanks for joining us this week for family policy matters before social distancing was the thing we were seeing a lot of headlines about a loneliness epidemic in the United States, depression, and suicide rates have been increasing dramatically among some segments of our population. Interestingly, there appears to be a connection between loneliness and political involvement, since it will be virtually impossible to avoid politics, especially this year, and with all that's going on. It might be helpful to learn ways to counterbalance their influence. Dr. Brian Streeter is the director of domestic policy studies at the American enterprise Institute. Dr. Streeter was Deputy Chief of Staff for Mike pence when he was governor of Indiana.
He is author of a recent article the lonely political crowd where he talks about that connection between political involvement and loneliness and ways we can counter loneliness during this time that is both socially isolating and politically charged Dr. Brian Streeter. Welcome to family policy matters.
So in your article you talk about the quote spread of politically charged loneliness what you mean by that one day it popped out of bed.
We didn't go looking for the particular we been doing survey research at ADI work where I work, looking at attitudes about a whole range of things about how humble people are doing at the community level we know polarized and we know that people are at each other's throats, when it comes to platforms like Twitter and the like. We want to understand how people actually doing when they're not talking about politics the whole range of questions. Question 2gauge people's sense of loneliness likely should relatively scale that you can create out of about 19 or 20 questions on that regard. And when people think about their involvement in their community and what kind of think they volunteer and what was striking is that for everybody who volunteers to get church for a local charity or anyone who participates weekly at an athletic sports club. As you might expect people that are regularly engaged with others have lower loneliness levels than those who are not. So when people are engaged or less lonely that the reason become one exception to that and that is people who say they're cheap out letters politics and we found that people who volunteer mostly politics volunteer for campaigns in the organization there. Loneliness levels are higher than the national average, and we found this to be the case among all adults, we found that active young people in their 20s and into their 30s are about seven times more likely to volunteer politics than those who are not lonely so emotionally among young and political engagement is particularly pronounced that we see throughout all adults and we can speculate as to why that is but I think there's something about the collectivity which creates a kind of tribalism into people who don't have other tribes. They don't have other local communities that they're a part of politics creates kind of a sense of meaning and sense of belonging and seems to attract people that don't have those other social supports in the lives so we never want to discourage people especially us here at the North County family policy Council to participate in politics, especially in influencing public policy so what are some of your recommendations for us. One point obviously life usually according to how well were doing as a country are involved in politics is important. I think what emerges from our research and in other resources out there that I find complementary is that you need other outlets in your your life. People who spend time politically engaged with were also engaged in and engaged the neighborhood engaged in a house of worship, they don't have the same sort of effects of being being locally connected with others, creating good in your in your community or town is really important we find that when you ask people where they get a strong community.
People still get a sense of community, more on average more from their neighborhood in the city where they live than they do their political theology or the race or ethnicity, and service agents of identity politics when were all kind of splitting each other up by clinical theology, and in the like. Turns out that care about whether from here about the neighborhood and so it's important to be engaged locally and I think that will bring healthier tones are politics as people look to it for less meaning than it should actually be providing a lot right. So of course we are in the middle of isolating ourselves.
So what kind of suggestions you have for us as far as how we can get alternate kinds of engagement when Lisa have to stay home?
Dealing with this right now. People already are hearing things kind of virtual community and is no substitute for the real thing of course, but fortunately our having this moment we have technology allows us to get together through weapons like others were people are able to dial in and in and be together and I think the longer we all spend up isolation, the more will find ourselves willing to actually share a meal with people digitally.
That way we found our work is that when people are in touch digitally. People that have established relationships with already.
That communication still maintains a deep sense of closeness and even before this crisis. You may be able to identify with this. You have a group of friends or members of your family that you have actually seen in a while, but your expert together and you you talk to each other every day and it maintains a closeness that was really possible before he had the technology so even though a lot of screen time can be blamed for loneliness and young people at that has been claimed and study a little bit.
There is also an upside to our screens which is that they do facilitate ongoing munication with people we care about is very hard to develop close relationships on the screen but the screens are good for prolonging and deepening those relationships that we arty have texting regularly and calling regularly with people you know and care about is important for maintaining those relationships in the I can think of a type spread with the other friends were.
We probably have no room in over a decade and yet were in touch almost every day and those relationships are real deep and meaningful. I know that I can call on this one story thing I needed help ensure that people think and also identify with that. So they important, but being able to hear each other's voice on the phone or even hear only see the text. Sunlight is still pretty valuable one and goes a long way to maintaining strong social ties so let's talk a little bit more about among some segments of our population. Depression rates have soared, suicide rates of sword. It is there a difference between this loneliness that some of us are feeling and and that kind of depression do you think there's been a lot of research over the years trying to understand the relationship between loneliness and depression then and there certainly correlated in a number of ways. It is possible for people to be depressed who are in the middle of a good relationship as possible people to loneliness request is not a one-to-one correlation. I think what is worth mentioning is that all of the attention given to what has been that it feels wrong.
Talk loneliness epidemic. Out of all the pandemic, but before the pandemic that was very common expression people talk about wellness in America but this is been an issue going back for decades and decades almost every generation seems to discover a segment of the population is struggling with loneliness most quickly claims about young people being lonely, but research going back only to the 50s shows that loneliness is always a greater problem with younger people and that's because younger people have been living in their place of residence for that long for less likely to be married. All these things are being lonely and so while I don't want to downplay the seriousness of people are experiencing extreme social isolation of the skeptic of some of the claims being made about the loan is that it does not really based on very good data week. We have very good data in our survey along with some others that have gone into depth on the boundary think that is about 1/3 of Americans will say that they feel socially isolated or time to time but it's really down the single digits where people are chronically in that condition so it's possible for someone to say that they have moments or episodes of loneliness, but they also say that they have people that are close to people that they can rely on in times of need and groups that they feel part of and when you ask, the whole battery questions realize that loneliness is a more complicated thing that has often been reported so that the good news in all of that is that even when people are lonely and feeling socially isolated.
We know that certain things are loneliness levels down regular engagement and religious organizations does not flunk very very strong relationship between low levels of loneliness and higher levels of engagement. Marriage makes a big difference and surprising to some people is that people are living the other cohabiting their loneliness levels are closer to Singleton. There are many people there. Something about being married, which really brings that down once your library must understand that engagement being involved in your community. I mentioned earlier, also lowers loneliness levels of people are doing all of the things many people who are regular members of the house of worship are all we engage in their community are the least lonely people in the country and so those are the things for us to keep in mind to try to understand the nature of the problem. Let's revisit people who are participating in religious organizations to talk a little bit more about why you found that to be an important component of our research is consistent with other work is been done on this is quite a large body of social science research that shows the people who are religious are less lonely and are happier with their their lives in my religious. The social science usually uses the term religiosity, which has to do with how you respond to questions like is God important to you. How often do you pray and do you attend a house of worship, and if so how often and we asked the same question in our survey and found brothers which is that people who are going to church. Basically every week. This life satisfaction is much higher.
Their feelings of loneliness are much lower.
The work of the famous social scientist Bob Putnam Robert Putnam at Harvard famous Rosebud bowling alone may follow up that book with one called American gray GQ will conduct this issue as well and found that when people have) in the house of worship, the effective of those friends on their lives is greater than the outside of the house of worship to your fellow members of your church people that you're regularly with and in the context of the house of worship produce a greater effect in your life. I think that's because the deep ties that exist within the faith community and within shared religious beliefs are just deeper and more important than say the ties you feel with someone who chooses a sports thing that you do or even someone that works in your office or place of employment. So this regular engagement is is what matters for people who only go to features on the holidays are people that are only occasionally at house of worship there there levels of happiness and the levels of loneliness are closer to those who don't go at all than to those who regularly so it's that regular commitment. It's one of your faith is important enough to you that you consider yourself a member of the faith community tenure there regularly developing relationships there so you said that co-hatters people that are living together with someone, don't experience a lot of the benefits. Why is that the case just like the research on religion is a very large body of social science work that looks at the effect of managing current households on outcomes in children and the outcomes and in those people's lives themselves and when two people are married and they have their kids in the home of the most kids just do better in every category educationally professionally. Later on in their lives. Your audience with with the police and all these things answer really really does make a big difference in the lives of children. It does make a big difference in the lives of the people who are very cheap when it comes to the difference between people who are married and those are cohabiting those differences show up quite regularly. I mentioned in the sense of happiness and and loneliness that the people are co-hatters are closer to Singleton the ordinary people in average levels. There other research shows that the outcomes for children are also not as consistently high with co-hatters as they are with two married parents. There are different types of cohabiting relationships right there. Those long-term collaborators to raise their kids in that household will both engage their lives and in those cases the kids outcomes are closer to those with with married parents, but in general they don't. There is as well because of something about the marriage commitment which just creates a certain stability that you'll find elsewhere and when two people have united themselves in marriage, it created a new family there so identified as a family. The children growing up knowing there part of this family and not just to people who brought their lives together. And so, psychologically, socially, interest rates, more stable and productive environment both for the children and for the people who were very well were just about out of time for this week. But before we go. Dr. Streeter where listeners go to learn more about this topic in all of these interesting things that you apparently study there in your organization.
Our website is AEI.org and you just type in AEI.org and then the page on our website which puts all our survey work and all the related articles will be written about their stuff there. Dr. Brian Streeter with the American enterprise Institute.
Thank you so much for being with us today on family policy matters listening to family policy matters. We hope you enjoyed the program and plaintiff to do it again next week to listen to the show online insulin more about his encourage and inspire families across the lawn to our website and see family.work that's in see family.org. Thanks again for listening and may God bless you and your