People in Surrey and Sussex feel less sense of community now than in the 1970s, according to the Changing UK report commissioned by the BBC.
It showed the number of people in the area covered by Southern Counties Radio who had "a poor sense of belonging" had risen from 20% in 1971 to 27% in 2001.
The number of residents classed as breadline poor also increased between 1980 and 2000, from 13% to 20%.
The Sheffield University study also revealed a population imbalance.
The researchers used Census data and information from a number of other sources to compile the report.
They looked at the number of non-married adults, one-person households, the number who had moved to their home within the last year and the number who privately rented their properties to work out the "sense of belonging" areas had.
The study also revealed that Surrey and Sussex had an ageing population.
At least 95,000 people aged between eight and 44 would have to move into the counties to make them equal to UK population averages, the report found.
This reflected the broader UK picture, which showed that young adults were increasingly moving to more affluent cities, especially London, for work.
But the figures also showed the UK was becoming less segregated by race and ethnicity than in 1991.
Also, owning items that were once seen as "rare goods", such as a television or a car, were now seen as necessities to life.