March 7, 2013

Closing the Digital Divide: Latinos and Technology Adoption

III. Cellphone Use

During the past three years, the share of Latino adults owning a cellphone increased from 76% in 2009 to 86% in 2012. Today, the share of Hispanics who own a cellphone is no different than the share of white adults who do so (84%) or the share of black adults who do so (90%).

Among Latinos, Who Uses a Cellphone?

2013-03_Latinos-Technology-10Even though Latinos are just as likely to say they own a cellphone as the general public is, among Latinos differences in ownership rates exist. For example, Latino adults with higher family incomes, who are younger and who have a higher educational attainment are more likely than their counterparts to say they own a cellphone.

Cellphone ownership is highest among Latinos with annual family incomes of $ 50,000 or more. Fully 97% of them say they own a cellphone. Latino adults with annual family incomes between $30,000 and $49,999 have a comparable rate of cellphone ownership (95%). By comparison, 83% of Latino adults with annual family incomes below $30,000 say they own a cellphone.

Youth is also linked to cellphone ownership among Latino adults. Nearly all Latinos ages 18 to 29 (96%) own a cellphone. By contrast, Latinos ages 65 and older are the least likely to own a cellphone (56%).

Latinos with higher educational attainment are also more likely to own a cellphone. More than nine-in-ten (93%) Latinos with some college education say they own a cellphone. Among Latino adults with a high school diploma, 88% own a cellphone. And among those with less than a high school diploma, 77% own one.

Additionally, native-born Latinos are 11 percentage points more likely to say they own a cellphone, than foreign-born Latinos—92% vs. 81%. Similarly, Latinos whose primary language is English are 15 percentage points more likely to own a cellphone (93%) than those who primarily use Spanish (78%).

Demographic Characteristics of Latino Cellphone Owners

2013-03_Latinos-Technology-11Latino cellphone owners are demographically different from Latinos who do not have a cellphone.

A third (33%) of Latino cellphone owners are ages 18 to 29, compared with just 9% of those without a cellphone. Conversely, only 6% of Latino cellphone owners are ages 65 or older, compared with 27% of those without a cellphone.

Latino cellphone owners are also more likely to be male (52%) than those who do not own a cellphone (42%).

Educational attainment is correlated with cellphone ownership. Latino cellphone owners are more than twice as likely to have some college education, compared with those without a cellphone (39% versus 17% respectively).

Latino cellphone owners are more likely than their counterparts to have higher family incomes. About one-fourth (23%) of Latino cellphone owners have annual family incomes of $50,000 or more, compared with just 5% of those without a cellphone. By contrast, half (48%) of Latino cellphone owners have family incomes below $30,000, compared with 60% of those without a cellphone.

Latinos who own a cellphone are more likely to live in a household with a dependent child under 18 (50%), compared with those who do not own a cellphone (37%).

Additionally, about half of cellphone owners are native born (47%), compared with about a quarter (24%) of those who do not own a cellphone. Similarly, Latino cellphone owners are more likely to speak English as their primary language (29%) or be bilingual (40%) than are Latinos without a cellphone (13% and 30% respectively).