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This may account for some of the lower figures people give; they could simply be out of date.
One of the reasons America is sometimes described as being an insular country is the low ownership or passports, and thus the low rate of international travel.Which in some ways is fair enough; in comparison to Europeans, for example, popping over to another country is often a bigger deal than jumping on a train.But Ted read that only 7 per cent of Americans own passports and wondered where the figure comes from.It seems the statistic varies, for example: None of these are remotely official but I can’t find an official government statistic for passport ownership.Taking into account some of these will be five year passports, we have a figure that’s probably a little under 20 per cent.Is there any reason this calculation would be way out?
Incidentally, I graphed the statistics for US passports issued per year [updated 24 April 2004].
You can see the dramatic rise over the past ten years.
The closest I’ve found is this page of the number of passports issued per year.
First, lets be generous and say that every passport was issued to an adult and therefore lasts ten years.
Assuming that everyone who’s been issued a passport over the last ten years still has it, that’s 60,884,784 people with US passports.
Given the US population is around 280 million, that gives us 21.7 per cent owning passports.