More Americans are pulling the plug on their landline telephone service and opting to live in households with only wireless devices, according to a recent federal report.
In a survey conducted during the first six months of 2008, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Center for Health Statistics estimated that one out of every six households in the country rely solely on at least one wireless handset for communications.
The CDC estimates that more than 36 million adults, 16% of the country’s population, and more than 12 million children, 17% of the nation’s children, live in households with only wireless telephone service.
The figure has been steadily increasing since 2005. The report, which was released last month, also details which demographics are more likely to have only wireless telephone service and its potential impact on health surveys.
With the emergence of wireless communications, the federal agency started asking three years ago whether respondents had landline or wireless telephone services in its surveys.
In 2005, one out of 15 adults lived in wireless-only households. The figure jumped to one out of every eight in 2007.
As cellular-only households have increased, the number of Americans living without telephone service remains unchanged in the past three years. Nearly 5 million adults, 2.1% of the population, and 2 million children, 2.5% of the population, live in households that have neither wireless nor landline services.
The report also found that Americans who have landline and wireless services tend to communicate a majority of the time through their wireless devices. Close to 23% of Americans that have both services receive all or almost all of their calls on a wireless device.
Breaking it down
In regards to the health aspect, binge drinking among wireless-only adults, 37%, is twice as high as adults living in landline households, 17%. Wireless-only adults are also more likely to smoke.
However, more adults who rely solely on wireless service reported that their health status was excellent or very good and were more likely to engage in leisure activities and less likely to have ever been diagnosed with diabetes.
The federal agency concludes that with an increase of wireless-only users, it will be tougher to conduct health surveys, political polls and other research conducted using random digit-dial telephone surveys.
“Coverage bias may exist if there are differences between persons with and without landline telephones for the substantive variables of interest,” according to the report.