Author: Ana Nico Clément

The Hague is widely considered a bustling city for business, governance, tourism and student life. However, in the shadow of this cosmopolitan, lively façade, loneliness among residents has been steadily increasing. Today, the municipality estimates that about 1 in 2 adults experiences loneliness in the city (Den Haag 2020). The GGD also noted a significant increase in feelings of severe loneliness with percentages increasing from 39 to 52 percent between 2008 and 2016 (GGD 2016).

The consequences of experiencing loneliness are not to be underestimated. Apart from its impacts on quality of life and life satisfaction, loneliness has the same risk factor to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, shortening one’s lifespan by eight years (Yeh 2017). Loneliness is toxic: The more isolated people feel, the less happy they are, affecting both brain function and physical health (Yeh 2017).

So, who are the lonely people of The Hague?

A Socio-Economic Issue

The Hague has wide-ranging income ranges. The 2016 Health Survey administered by the GGD found that residents with lower education levels and lower incomes tend to feel more severely lonely than residents of higher socioeconomic classes (GGD 2016). Here, reasons can include having lower expectations of eventual life fulfillment, ill health or the prospect of insufficient earnings (Naz Gul and Bano 2017).

This connection between socio-economic status and feelings of loneliness is in part reflected in the neighborhood scores across The Hague. Lower-income districts such as Escamp and Centrum reported much higher levels of loneliness than the rest of the city. For example, in Laakkwartier about 55 percent of residents experienced loneliness, whereas in Scheveningen – a higher income neighborhood – only 44 percent reported this same sentiment (GGD 2016).

This distinction has not gone unnoticed. In 2019, the City Council focused its attention on the increase of loneliness levels in the Escamp district (Lammerding 2019). As part of the “Council in the city” initiative, small town hall meetings were conducted on the subject with the factors of income, unemployment and education being put at the forefront of the quest for a solution (Parbhudayal 2016).

A Matter of Age and Origin

The 2016 Health survey also found a correlation between loneliness and descent. In the Netherlands, as many as seven in ten residents of Moroccan, Surinamese and other non-western origins reported feeling moderate to very severe levels of loneliness (GGD 2016). This number represents a huge disparity within the Dutch population: While 43 percent of native Dutch citizens reported experiencing loneliness, the same was true for a staggering 69 percent of citizens with foreign roots (GGD 2016).

Results from 2015 also show that age plays an important role in experiencing loneliness with 48 percent of young people aged 12-18 feeling moderately to very lonely (GGD 2016). In lower-income neighborhoods, this number rises to 59 percent (GGD 2016). Again, poverty seems to plays a dominant role in the feelings of isolation.

The Archetype of Loneliness in The Hague

In its action plan for the “Met zijn allen niet alleen” (Not alone together) initiative, the municipality of The Hague has created a model of those who endure loneliness the most (Parbhudayal 2016). This group is largely comprised of young people, older people, non-western immigrants, people with mental health problems and single mothers (Parbhudayal 2016). Considering the adverse effects of loneliness on one’s physical and mental health, it is all the more important to identify those suffering from it the most.


GGD (2016). “Eenzaamheid Den Haag.” GGD Haaglanden Gezondheidsmonitor. At

Lammerding, E. (2019). “Escamp wil meer sociale ontmoetingen en betere woningen.” Den Haag Centraal. At

Naz Gul, S. and M. Bano (2017). “Impact of Socio-Economic Status on Social Support, Social Loneliness, Emotional Loneliness and Social Isolation of older adults.” FWU Journal of Social Sciences 11(1).

Parbhudayal, K. (2016). “Met z’n allen niet alleen.” Den Haag. At

The Hague (2016). “Schulden- en armoedebrief 2017.” Den Haag. At

The Hague (2020). “Eerste Hulp bij Eenzaamheid.” Den Haag. At

Yeh, C. S. (2017). “The power and prevalence of loneliness.” Harvard Health Publishing. At

Who Are the Lonely People of The Hague?

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