As I am rapidly approaching my graduation from Northeastern University, I realize that the continuation of my education will be entirely in my own hands. Reading, whether it be news articles, opinion pieces, or book, will be one way that I hope to do so.

Image from Pew Research Center
Image from Pew Research Center

Research from the Pew Research Center found, recently, that 26% of U.S. adults haven’t read a book in the last 12 months. Of course, we’re a busy nation and many adults in the U.S. work more than one job and simply don’t have time to sit down and read an entire book. The Pew Center went on to break down the demographics of those Americans who hadn’t read a book, either in its entirety or just a part, in 12 months and the results are not surprising.

It’s easy to see that demographic groups that are the most powerful in our society are those that were least likely to have not read a book in the last year (i.e. were likely to be among those who HAD read a book in the last year).

Relatively speaking, U.S. adults who were women, white, between the ages of 18 and 49, made more than $75K per year, were college educated, and lived in urban America were most likely to have read a book. Forty percent of Hispanics and adults with a high school degree or less hadn’t read a book in the last year and 33 percent of those with an income of less than $30K hadn’t either.

The amount of leisure time that adults from different demographics have is, clearly, an influencing factor here. Researcher Andrew Perrin also draws connections to another study from Pew which found that uneducated Americans are among the least likely to own a smartphone or tablet which could also contribute to these distinctions.

Image from Pew Research Center
Image from Pew Research Center

As the percentages of Americans accessing digital copies of books increases, those who aren’t able to afford popular tech platforms may be left behind. In an examination of these numbers including print versus digital trends, Perrin found that while, “the share of Americans who have read a book in the last year is largely unchanged since 2012; more Americans read print books than either read e-books or listen to audio books.”

The Pew Research Center has only been researching these trends since 2011, when the number of American adults who hadn’t read a book in the last year was at 19%. The jump to 26% occurred in 2012 and has since remained steady. It will be interesting to see how these trends develop into the future. Technology is continuously changing the ways in which we consume information, and one can only hope that it will empower and engage more people in their own educations.


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