Few Americans are writing letters these days — at least not the kind written by hand on paper and sent through the mail. Just under a third have written a personal letter within the past twelve months.
For many Americans it’s been even longer. Thirty-seven percent say it’s been over five years since they’ve written and sent a personal letter, while another 15% of adults have never written and sent a personal letter.
Things aren’t much different when it comes to receiving personal letters. Half of Americans haven’t received a personal letter in the past five years, and 14% have never received one. Perhaps not surprisingly, those who have written and sent a personal letter recently are also more likely to have received one in return.
Older Americans don’t seem to be hanging on to the practice of letter writing any more than younger generations: just half of Americans age 65 and older have written a letter in the past five years, the same proportion as younger adults. But nearly all seniors 65 and older have written a personal letter at some point in their lives; more than one in five adults under 45 have never written a personal letter.
Women are more likely to have written a personal letter recently than men. A third of women have written one in the past year, and most have done so in the past five years. Six in 10 men haven’t done so.
The CBS News survey of 1,717 adults in the U.S. was conducted by YouGov between September 14-20, 2021. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the U.S. Census American Community Survey, and the U.S. Census Current Population Survey, as well as 2020 Presidential vote. The margin of error is ±2.7 points.