Abstract - The Information Society 12(4)

Understanding communication privacy: Unlisted telephone subscribers in the United States

James E. Katz

A national survey of over 1,500 US households was analyzed to identify demographic variables that can predict subscription to unlisted telephone service. The survey was conducted face-to-face among a stratified random sample of households. The demographic variables that contribute to subscribership are: 1.being an African-American, 2. not owning a home, 3. metropolitan residence, 4. multifamily dwelling, 5. lower education, and 6. income. Characteristics commonly thought to be important, such as being young, female, having kids, or being a professional or manager, were not statistically significant variables when considered with the others. The findings suggest that unlisted service may not only be valued by subscribers as a way to cut problem calls, but also to reduce general accessibility by outsiders. Based on the analysis, new service concepts are advanced that might still provide value of reduced accessibility by outsiders.

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