It’s not really surprising but over half of Americans don’t have or use a land line, according to data published late last week by the Centers for Disease Control. The study tracks the demographics of land line telephone use and was designed to help the CDC adapt its data collection programs, which relied heavily on calling land lines. While the pitfalls of relying on landlines for surveys is well known, the report has some worthwhile stats on the demographics of landline telephone use.
The survey found that more than one-third of American homes (35.8 percent) had only wireless telephones during the first half of 2012 while 15.9 percent of all households had both landline and wireless telephones but received all or almost all calls on the wireless phones. This means 51.7 percent of U.S. homes don’t have or didn’t use their landlines in the first half of 2012. That’s a 1.8 percent increase from the same period a year ago.
Here are some more insights from the survey:
- The young eschew landlines. Six in 10 adults aged 25–29 (60.1 percent) lived in households with only wireless telephones. That number drops as household members get older.
- Renters love wireless. More than half of all adults renting their home (58.2 percent) had only wireless telephones. This rate is more than twice as large as the rate for adults owning their home at 23.2 percent.
- The poor like wireless too. Adults living in poverty (51.8 percent) were more likely than adults living near poverty (42.3 percent) and higher income adults (30.7 percent) to be living in households with only wireless telephones.
- Landline owners are more likely to have health insurance, than those in wireless only homes. The percentage without health insurance coverage at the time of interview among wireless-only adults under age 65 (27.9 percent) was greater than the percentage among adults in that age group living in landline households (15.1 percent).
- Men are more likely than women to live in wireless-only homes. Men (35.2 percent) were more likely than women (32.9 percent) to be living in households with only wireless telephones.
As the FCC begins its regulatory process to change the rules associated with landline access and telcos like AT&T and Verizon try to get out of the landline business altogether, it’s clear that the phasing out of copper-based voice lines will have repercussions that go beyond telephone calls. Understanding how it affects the reporting of health data and adapting to that is just one of them.