Fewer than half of Americans always use a landline at home

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Over a third of US households have ditched the landline in favor of a cellphone, a new survey shows.

According to the Centers for Disease Control's National Health Interview Study, just over half of the 20,000 households interviewed use a landline for all or nearly all phone calls, with 35.9 percent doing without a landline at all.

But the percentage of people going cellular-only is creeping up only gradually, at just two percentage points more than last year. It appears that most younger people have made the transition already, with 60.1 percent of 25-to-29-year-olds living in households where there's only a cellphone.

However, only a quarter of those aged between 45 and 64 are wireless-only - just one in ten for those over 64. With major phone companies making no secret of the fact that they'd like to get out of the landline business altogether, this could have major social implications.

What's perhaps most interesting about the survey results is the way that cellphones have become the main type of phone for two very distinct groups: the richest and the poorest. The first group is easy to explain: richer people can afford to buy cellphones sooner and worry less about the cost of calls.

At the other end of the scale, though, the lack of a landline can indicate an insecure lifestyle. For example, the highest proportion of households without a landline is amongst adults living with unrelated adult roommates, where 75.9 percent do without. For adult renters overall, the figure is 58.2 percent.

"Compared with adults living in landline households, wireless-only adults were more likely to have experienced financial barriers to obtaining needed health care, and they were less likely to have a usual place to go for medical care," reads the report.