Precarity and the pandemic: The impact of COVID-19 on single men living alone

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Background and Objectives
Existing research reveals that single men living alone are at a heightened risk of isolation and precarity. This study traced the impact of the pandemic on the daily lives of a group of single men over three waves of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom.
Research Design and Methods
A qualitative longitudinal study with older people aged 50 and over (n=102), interviewed by telephone in 2020-2021. This analysis focuses on a sub-sample comprising single men (n=16) who lived alone and were interviewed three times (n=48). The men were White British, Black and Asian, age 58-88, and were identified as facing difficulties in their lives arising from long-term health problems and or/social isolation. Participants were asked about the impact of, and response to, three lockdowns. Data were analysed using themes identified in the secondary literature using thematic and longitudinal analysis.
For single men living alone, precarity intensified during the pandemic due to worsening physical and/or mental health combined with restricted access to relationships and activities. Key moments in the life course influenced how these men experienced and viewed the impact of COVID-19.
Discussion and Implications
This analysis sheds light on the deepening precarity of older men living alone during the pandemic, highlighting the emergence of new vulnerabilities for some. The findings emphasise the need, given the likelihood of future waves of the pandemic, to target support at those living alone, particularly in relation to the provision of community health services, social infrastructure, and combatting digital exclusion.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Gerontologist
Early online date19 Aug 2022
Publication statusPublished - 21 Aug 2022


  • Relationships, Social exclusion, Isolation, LGBTQ+, Life course

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Manchester Institute for Collaborative Research on Ageing


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