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Landlines Disappearing from American Homes

Updated: Oct 22, 2021

It seems as if landline phones, yes, remember those things, may be going the way of the dinosaurs similar to pay phones. Remember those? According to the latest cell phone data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control, (yes, that’s correct the CDC which surprisingly tracks cell phones) it seems as if a majority of American households either do not have landlines or do not use them regularly, if at all. During the first half of 2012, more than one third of all American homes (35.8%) only used mobile phones. In addition, 15.9% received all or almost all their calls on mobile phones despite also having a landline. Taken together this means that over 50% of households in America are primarily wireless. Not surprisingly, the group that seems to be most tied to cell phones is adults in the 25-29 age range. Among this group, over 60% live in homes without a landline as compared to 49.5% for adults 18-24 and 55.1% for adults 30-34. Beyond age 35, the percentages begin to drop as would be expected. 39.1% for those 35-44; 25.8% for 45-64 and 10.5% for those 65 and over. Other interesting demographic breakdowns include:

  • That more than 3 in 4 adults living with unrelated adult roommates (75.9%) only use wireless phones;

  • Men are more likely than women to live in wireless-only households (35.2% to 32.9%);

  • Renters are more than twice as likely to live in wireless-only households than property owners (58.2% to 23.2%); and

  • Hispanic adults (46.5%) are more likely than white adults (30.4%) and black adults (37.7%) to live in a wireless-only household.

The CDC gathered this information to test the reliability of their phone surveys, which until very recently were done only with landline phones. The CDC concluded that excluding wireless consumers from surveys could bias survey results. For example, when querying the prevalence of having 5 or more drinks in 1 day during the past year, wireless-only adults reported substantially higher numbers than those living in landline households (30.5% to 17.5%). Wireless-only responders also were more likely to be current smokers than their landline counterparts. For a look at the survey and more in-depth charts on the data, head over to the PDF.

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