Researcher explains why those without college degrees are seeing decline in close friendships

Daniel Cox, the director of the Survey Center on American Life, explained that Americans without college degrees were reporting fewer close friendships due to a “decline in civic and social infrastructure.”

Cox spoke about a recent report he did comparing social experiences of Americans with and without college degrees. 

The report compares a Gallup poll conducted in 1990 and a survey conducted by Survey Center on American Life earlier this year, showing that the percentage of Americans with no college education who said they reported five or more close friends dropped from 64 percent in 1990 to 34 percent in 2021.

“What we found – and what I speculate is happening – is that we’ve seen a decline in civic and social infrastructure that was really important for all Americans, but it really was important for serving the needs of those without a college education. And I’m talking about marriage,” Cox explained in a Tuesday appearance on Hill.TV’s “Rising.”  “We’re seeing a decline in participation in marriage among those without college – it’s basically fallen off a cliff over the last few decades.”

Cox also explained that there has also been a decline in the number of people participating in religious affiliations.

“So we’re also seeing, and we document in this our report, is a decline in religious participation. And there’s been, you know, I think there’s this kind of sense in the culture that that more educated Americans are less religious, but we actually find the opposite when it comes to belonging to a religious congregation – that those with the degree are actually more likely to be members,” Cox explained.