Americans (and people in other countries) who hold college degrees are more likely to use social networks than peers who don’t hold college degrees, according to a new global survey of technology adoption by Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project. Unsurprisingly Pew also found that social network activity is also correlated with age, skewing younger, and nationality, skewing higher in countries with bigger GDPs.
In the U.S., Pew found that 61% of college degree holders use social networks, compared to 45% of people without a college degree. Similar gaps in between college-educated and non-college-educated people were seen around the world, including France (43% vs. 29%), Spain (52% vs. 38%), Poland (69% vs. 35%), Russia (63% vs. 39%), China (79% vs. 28%), Japan (44% vs. 21%), India (25% vs. 4%), and Pakistan (13% vs. 1%). The size of the gaps varied, however, with smaller disparities seen in Germany (38% vs. 34%) and Britain (45% vs. 43%). Although it’s just speculation on my part, one reason the last two have smaller differences may be the relatively high quality of their general education systems, which ensure that people who don’t go to college are still exposed to technology education at the primary and secondary levels.
The Pew data also confirms the conventional wisdom that younger people are more likely to use social networks than their elders, although once again there is considerable variation from country to country. In the U.S., 80% of 18-29-year-olds use social networking, compared to 62% of those ages 30-49 and just 26% of the 50+ cohort. In France the breakdown is 77%-42%-12%, Germany is 72%-45%-13%, and Britain is 78%-57%-17%. In Israel it’s 80%-63%-23%, but the proportions are curiously reversed, or near-equal, in some other Middle Eastern countries: in Egypt it’s 27%-33%-18%, and in Jordan it’s 33%-31%-16%.
Finally, social networking use is also correlated with per capita GDP, probably because economic output per person corresponds to levels of technology infrastructure and awareness. Thus India, Pakistan and Indonesia, with per capita GDP of less than $5,000, fell at the bottom of the social networking scale, while middle-income countries like Russia and Poland gravitated towards the middle, and high-income countries including the U.S. and Western Europe were at the top.