In-person socialization is alive in these states--here's where people are the most social

Keerthi Vedantam, Data Work By Karim Noorani on

Published in Slideshow World

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In-person socialization is alive in these states—here's where people are the most social

It's been a few years since Americans were largely shuttered indoors for months on end during the COVID-19 pandemic, but is that why the country is facing an epidemic of loneliness?

The answer is not really. According to The Atlantic's Derek Thompson, who also looked at the American Time Use Survey, American adults are spending 30% less time face-to-face than they did 20 years ago—and for various reasons. First, it was blamed on the internet and social media. Then, the pandemic hit. This enforced isolation soon made more Americans realize the value of interactions. In a Pew Research survey conducted in May 2022, about 1 in 5 people mentioned their increased appreciation for social activities. On the other hand, that same survey noted about 1 in 10 preferred keeping to themselves for health purposes and to avoid the risk of exposure.

Now, though inflation has hit people hard, and the soaring price of coffee, drinks, and eating out is making it more expensive to meet, people are actively looking for ways to better connect with each other—whether it be hosting parties, attending get-togethers, or getting a quick bite to eat. Some states do it better than others.

Peerspace used American Time Use Survey data via IPUMS to determine which states spend more time in person at social gatherings. Data was collected between 2017 and 2022 but excluded 2020 due to the pandemic. The weighted average represents which states spend more or less time socializing.

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Rhode Island spends the most time socializing

While most states spend around 35 to 40 minutes a day on average attending social gatherings outside of obligations, Rhode Island and South Dakota far exceed that.

Rhode Islanders ranked first when it comes to socializing. They spend a weighted average of 57 minutes socializing a day, per the survey, which doesn't come as quite a surprise, especially if you think about the state's population density. About 1.1 million people are squeezed into about 1,000 square miles in the state, making for plenty of opportunities to bump into friends and acquaintances. "I've lived in Rhode Island my entire life and any time I visit other places, I get home sick. There's so much to do and there's something for everyone here. Everything is close to each other and super convenient," WarmLittlePotato on Reddit wrote about the Ocean State.

South Dakota comes in second to Rhode Island, spending roughly 51 minutes a day socializing. New Hampshire, Minnesota, and Alabama follow accordingly.

The bottom of the list includes New Mexico, which only socializes about 32 minutes a day, followed by Nebraska, Alaska, Oklahoma, and Vermont—the latter two of which spend an average of 25 minutes a day at social functions.

The lack of socialization time in Vermont could be explained by its population, which was dwindling until COVID-19 brought an unexpected uptick in new residents. By January 2023, Vermont still had the second-fewest residents among all the states and territories. Arthur Woolf, a former University of Vermont professor of economics, told Vermont Public that its weather and lack of big cities could also dissuade many from settling in the Green Mountain State. "We have no big cities and we're cold," he said.

Story editing by Carren Jao. Copy editing by Paris Close. Photo selection by Clarese Moller.

This story originally appeared on Peerspace and was produced and distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.



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