More than 50 years after the first episode of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” Fred Rogers, the creator and host of the popular children’s TV show, is being memorialized on the silver screen. A forthcoming Hollywood movie, in addition to a documentary last year, are bringing renewed attention to Rogers and his familiar refrain, “Won’t you be my neighbor?”
A Pew Research Center survey in 2018 explored several aspects of community life in the United States, including neighborly relations. Amid fresh interest in Rogers and his show, here are five facts about how Americans interact with their neighbors, based on the Center’s survey:
1A majority of Americans (57%) say they know only some of their neighbors; far fewer (26%) say they know most of them. Americans ages 65 and older are more likely than those ages 18 to 29 to say they know most of their neighbors (34% vs. 20%). In contrast, about a quarter (23%) of adults under 30 don’t know any of their neighbors, compared with just 4% among those 65 and older.
There are also slight differences based on marital status. Roughly three-in-ten married adults (31%) say they know most of their neighbors, compared with about a quarter or fewer of those who are unmarried (22%); living with a partner (20%); divorced, separated or widowed (26%); or have never been married (19%).
Having children at home isn’t related to stronger ties with neighbors: Parents are just as likely as non-parents to say they know most of their neighbors (26% for each group).
2Even in a digital age, neighborly interactions are still more likely to happen in person than via text or email. Americans who know at least some of their neighbors are more than twice as likely to say they have face-to-face conversations with them several times a week (20%) than over the phone or by email or text message (7% each).
3About two-thirds of Americans who know at least some of their neighbors (66%) would feel comfortable asking to leave a set of keys with them for emergencies. But there are differences in these attitudes by race and ethnicity: About seven-in-ten white adults hold this view (72%), compared with roughly half or more of black and Hispanic adults (54% and 49%, respectively).
There are also sizable age differences on this measure. Eight-in-ten adults ages 65 and older say they are comfortable leaving a set of keys with their neighbors, compared with just half of those ages 18 to 29.
4Social events among neighbors are relatively rare. Among Americans who know at least some of their neighbors, a majority (58%) say they never meet them for parties or get-togethers. About three-in-ten (28%) say they have parties or get-togethers less than once a month, and 14% say they do this monthly or more often.
Higher-income Americans are among the most likely to have these functions. Roughly half of Americans with annual household incomes of $75,000 or more (53%) say they have these gatherings, compared with about a third (36%) of those with incomes below $30,000.
5Rural residents are more likely than people in suburban and urban areas to know all or most of their neighbors, but they aren’t more likely to interact with them. Four-in-ten rural residents say they know all or most of their neighbors, compared with 24% of urban residents and 28% of suburban residents. But rural residents have in-person conversations with their neighbors about as often as those in other community types. Roughly half of rural residents (47%) say they have face-to-face conversations with their neighbors at least once a week, with similar shares of suburban (49%) and urban residents (53%) saying the same.