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Friends Meet Less After Pandemic

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People are meeting face-to-face with friends and relatives less often than before the Covid pandemic, according to new data from Statistics Finland.

The number-crunching agency also found that people have attended fewer cultural events since the coronavirus crisis began.

Last year, 45 percent of people over the age of 16 said they met face-to-face with a friend at least once a week. That reflects a 20 percentage point decrease compared to 2006, when the proportion stood at 65 percent.

Men were more likely to meet with friends (49%) than women (40%), and younger people met up more often than those in older age groups. People over the age of 74 socialised with friends the least.

Around 70 percent of the most socially active group — aged 16-24 — met at least one friend in person on a weekly basis. Students were most socially active, according to the data.

People started meeting less during the pandemic, according to Kaisa-Mari Okkonen, a senior statistician at the agency.

“There was a slight decrease in meetings in previous years. However, Covid prompted a further decline and meetings have not returned to pre-pandemic levels,” Okkonen said in a press release on Thursday.

Increased loneliness

Despite the drop in real-life meetings, many are still keeping in touch by phone or the internet. Last year, 71 percent of 16-year-olds had contacted friends remotely at least once a week.

“Communicating in other ways is still as common as it was, but face-to-face meetings have decreased. At the same time, there was an increase in feelings of loneliness and dissatisfaction with human relationships,” Okkonen noted.

People were also less likely to meet with relatives, with 43 percent saying they had met relatives at least once a week. The proportion was 60 percent in 2006.

Statistics Finland researcher Riitta Hanifi pointed out that meetings with relatives have been in decline for some time.

“[They] have been decreasing for almost 20 years, so the decline is not only explained by the pandemic,” Hanifi said in the release.

Women were more active in meetups with relatives, with 45 percent of women and 41 percent of men meeting relatives at least once a week. Younger people were less likely to meet with relatives than older age groups. Those over the age 75 were most active in meeting family.

At the same time, 78 percent of 16-year-olds said they contacted their relatives at least weekly.

Statistics Finland said it collected the lifestyle data during the first five months of 2022. Additionally, the research examined cultural event attendance figures, which also saw a significant decline and has not returned to pre-pandemic levels since.

Source: Yle

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