Reading has been shown to improve your physical and mental health. Research from professors at UC Berkeley have found that the more children read, the greater their vocabulary growth and cognitive skills. Successful people like Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Mark Cuban all rave about the importance of reading.
But according to Pew Research Center, roughly a quarter of American adults don’t read books at all. In fact in 2018, the research group released figures suggesting that 24 percent of American adults say they have not read a book — in part or whole, in print or electronically or audibly — in the past year.
According to the American Times Use Survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans over the age of 15 spend about 0.28 hours, or about 16.8 minutes, reading for personal interest each day. That’s down from 21 minutes in 2007.
Pew found that an American’s likelihood of reading was directly correlated with wealth and education level.
Adults with annual household incomes of $30,000 or less are more than twice as likely to be non-book readers as the most affluent adults. About 17 percent of those making over $75,000 a year did not read books while 36 percent of those making less than $30,000 did not.
Education level was an even more significant predictor. Adults with a high school degree or less are more than five times as likely as college graduates to report not reading books in the past year. Roughly 37 percent of Americans with a high school degree or less did not read any books, compared to 7 percent of those with a college diploma.
Pew research analyst Andrew Perrin points to the fact that Americans with limited incomes and lower education levels are less likely to own electronic devices like smartphones, which are increasingly common tools for reading, as one reason for the reading gap.
There is also an obvious reason that low-income Americans with lower levels of education are less likely to read — literacy. While up-to-date estimates of how many Americans struggle with basic literacy are limited , the National Center for Education Statistics estimates that 32 million adults in the United States can’t read.