What Friend Groups Look Like by Generation

Overall, Pew Research Center finds that most of us have one to four 'close' friends
By Gina Carey,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 22, 2023 4:35 PM CDT
American Friendships Look Different Based on Age
Pew Research Center's new study on friendships says the majority of Americans have between 1 and four close friends.   (Getty / ViewApart)

Does age, gender, or ethnic identity say anything about how we form friendships? According to Pew Research Center, a few trends stick out. Pew asked questions about who we define as close friends in a survey conducted over the summer to about 5,000 adults from the US. Some highlights:

  • 53% of adults reported having one to four close friends, while a significant number (38%) are having larger brunch dates, with five or more; 8% of respondents had no close friends.
  • Being older tends to widen that friend group. Adults 65 and up were more likely (49%) to have five or more close friends than other age cohorts, while those under 30 kept it tighter, at 32%.
  • The majority (66%) said they were more likely to have close friends of the same gender, with more women defining their close friends as exclusively girl squad (71% vs. 61% for men).
  • Older generations, though, were less likely to say their friends were of an opposite gender. 74% of women and 59% of men 50 years and older were more likely to say their friends shared their gender (the study did not note if non-binary options were included).
  • The majority of respondents (63%) said their friend group was all the same race, but less so in younger generations; 53% of adults under 30 reported that their friends shared race or ethnicity.
  • White adults (70%) were less likely to have diverse friend groups than other racial/ethnic groups. Black (62%), Asian (52%), and Hispanic (47%) adults defined their friendships as sharing the same race.
  • The good news is, people are pretty happy in their friendships. 72% of Americans with at least one close friend were completely or very satisfied with the relationship.
  • People 50 and older were the most pleased with their friendships (77% vs. 67% for younger adults), and strength might be in numbers. Those with more close friends said they were more satisfied with those relationships (81% with five or more friends, 65% with one to four friends).
Read the full survey results here. (Or read more friendship stories).

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