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Investigating the Social Impacts of Social Isolation among Young Adults:
How much do social costs young adults’ social isolation amount to?


- Objective: To investigate social costs based on the understanding of youth isolation
- Contents: Concept and actual conditions of youth isolation, policy and economic costs, health and related economic costs, etc
- Published: August 2023

- Conclusion and Summary 

This research contributes to the existing literature in that it is the first to present a systematic model to estimate the social costs of young adults’ social isolation. Our findings suggest that a significant amount of social costs is incurred for our society to pay both now and in the future when young adults are isolated. Health-related costs were estimated to be approximately KRW 29.3 billion at the lowest end of the estimation, and policy costs due to poverty and unemployment were estimated to be around KRW 200 billion per year. The economic costs due to economic inactivity, weakening job performance, and low fertility rate are estimated to be KRW 6.7 trillion per year. Together, the aggregate social costs amount to KRW 7 trillion. Dividing this annual cost of young adults’ social isolation by the number of isolated young adults in 2019 (340,000) yields the estimated social cost of approximately KRW 21 million per person.

If policy interventions reduce the proportion of isolated young adults from 3.1% to 2.5%, the annual social costs would fall from KRW 7 trillion to 5.8 trillion. If the proportion were reduced to 2%, the annual costs would fall to KRW 4.7 trillion, and if it were reduced to 1.5%, the annual costs would further fall to KRW 3.5 trillion. Therefore, public support for isolated young adults should be seen as an investment, rather than merely as a cost.

Not only does social isolation among young adults incur significant social costs, but also studies show that the longer the period of isolation gets, the faster the costs can rise (Loades et al., 2020). Today, not tomorrow, is the right time to act proactively to reduce social isolation among young adults.

- Researchers
Young Jun Choi(Yonsei University Department of Public Policy and Management Professor)
Euna Han(Yonsei University Department of Pharmacy Professor)
Ahraemi Kim(Seoul Women’s University Department of Social Welfare  Associate Professor)
Seonga Kim(Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs Associate Research Fellow)

- Research assistant 
Sohyun Lim(Yonsei University Department of Public Policy and Management)
Hanbin Lee(Yonsei University Department of Pharmacy)
Yuri Choi(Yonsei University Department of Pharmacy)

※ Contact Information: open@kyf.or.kr