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How Many Friends Do You Have?
61% of Americans say that close friendships are important for a meaningful life. But the number of friends people have differs significantly by age.
According to a new Pew survey, 53% of adults say they have between one and four close friends. 38% say five or more. And only 8% say zero.
But these numbers differ significantly by age. For example, older Americans are considerably more likely than their younger counterparts to have many friends: 49% of those ages 65+ report five or more close friendships, compared to only 32% of those ages 18-30. Moreover, older Americans report the greatest satisfaction with their relationships; and other surveys have found that younger Americans are more likely to have no close friends at all. (See “The Young and the Lonely.”)
This Pew poll also found that 66% of adults say most of their friends are of their own gender. And this response is more common among women than men (71% vs. 61%). These results match a previous poll we covered by the Survey Center on American Life. (See “Do You Have Friends of the Opposite Gender?”)
So what do close friends chat about? The most popular topics are centered around people’s personal lives: 58% often talk about their work and 57% about their family. Entertainment, not so much: 35% often discuss pop culture and only 24% sports.
Did You Know?
Where’s The Booze? In 1986, the alternative rock group The Replacements achieved everlasting infamy on Saturday Night Live. The band was so drunk they forgot the lyrics to their songs, wandered aimlessly on stage, and yelled random profanities. NBC subsequently banned them from future episodes. But now the days of alcohol-fueled concerts may be fading. Today’s music festivals increasingly offer no-booze and low-alcohol drinks: Earlier this year, Lollapalooza offered several artisan non-alcoholic beverages at every drink station, and at Bonnaroo concertgoers could spend the weekend at a no-alcohol campground. Undoubtedly, these venues are responding to Millennials’ tight budgets, healthy lifestyles, and trademark risk aversion. (See “Where the Wild Things Aren’t.”) These are not the wild Boomer youth who did everything they could to alter their minds at Woodstock.
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