Cellphone Users Trading Phone Wires for Booze

The number of homes relying solely on cellphones has risen so rapidly that it has now overtaken the number which are landline only. The figures come from a report which also shows cellphone only householders are more likely to be binge drinkers.

During the last six months of 2008, 20.2 per cent of homes in the US were cell-phone only. That’s up from 17.5 per cent in the same period during the first half of the year. A separately produced report in 2007 put the figure then at 14.5 per cent.

The July-December 2008 report also found that just 17 per cent of homes had landlines and no cellphones.

While some of the statistics are predictable – younger people are more likely to be cellphone-only than older people – there are some surprises. Though you might imagine cellphones to something wealthier people buy, the figures show that people on lower incomes are much more likely to be cellphone-only. That could be down to cash-strapped consumers having to choose between a cellphone and a landline and deciding the former is more useful. It may also be that those on lower incomes change address more often and thus find having a landline more hassle.

The most striking figure was that 36.7 per cent of adults from cellphone only households were classed as binge drinkers (meaning they’d drunk five or more alcoholic drinks in a single day at some point in the past year), while just 19.7 per cent of people who only had a landline met that description. The most likely explanation is that landline-only people are inherently more likely to be elderly and drink less, though it’s also possible that many people without cellphones are less sociable and don’t go out to bars.

The report comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which carries out regular surveys on health issues among the public. It publicizes the cellphone/landline figures to highlight the importance of including cellphone numbers in phone surveys to make sure all parts of society are reflected in health statistics.

The 2007 report found some sparsely populated states had the highest proportion of cellphone only homes. While that might appear strange given that network coverage is often weakest in such states, one explanation was that people in rural areas with poor access to broadband services were less likely than their metropolitan counterparts to keep a landline operating solely to get internet access.

[Picture source: Flickr]

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