Friday, October 10, 2014

Freaky facts and scary stats for Halloween 2014


America's candy consumption in 2010 was nearly 25 pounds per person. If this candy were entirely Snickers bars, it would be the equivalent of nearly 4 candy bars, per week, per person. The volume of candy consumed, much like home prices, peaked in the middle of the decade, dipped at the start of the recession in 2008, and increased slowly each year since then. Another scary fact is that 2010 is the last year for which we'll have this data. Budget cuts led to the termination of the Current Industrial Reporting program.

American confectionery manufacturers produce about 35 million pounds of candy corn each year. That adds up to 9 billion candy corns - or about 30 kernels per person in the U.S.

For Halloween itself, Americans purchase nearly 600 million pounds of candy, spending nearly $2 billion for treats to hand out to trick-or-treaters.

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, Current Industrial Reports, Confectionery: 2010National Confectioners AssociationDaily Infographic 2011 and 2012


According to Redfin (and contrary to what one might guess) homes near cemeteries sell for more, per square foot, than homes not near cemeteries.
"Redfin analyzed the price of homes less than 50 feet from a cemetery, and compared those to the price of homes less than 100, 200, 500 and 1,000 yards away. The numbers indicate that on average, homes near cemeteries are slightly smaller, but sell for more per square foot. On average, homes closest to cemeteries sold for $162 dollars per square foot, whereas the homes located more than 500 yards away sold for $145 per square foot."
But these homes were on the market for longer than their non-cemetery peers...


There were an estimated 41.2 million potential trick-or-treaters (children age 5-14*) in the United States in 2013, and 3.7 million in Canada.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Facts for Features and Statistics Canada Hallowe’en... by the numbers
*Note: Of course, many other children - older than 14, and younger than 5 - also go trick-or-treating.


U.S. pumpkin production totaled 1.1 billion pounds, in 2013, with a value of $150 million. In that year 50,900 acres of farmland were harvested for pumpkins.

Six states are pumpkin hotspots: Illinois, California, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan each accounted for more than 100 million pounds of pumpkins grown in 2010.

In Canada, there were 7,027 acres of pumpkins patch in 2012, for production of more than 63,700 tonnes valued at $17.6 million.

Sources: USDA National Agricultural Statistics and Statistics Canada Hallowe’en... by the numbers


The average American adult will spend nearly $78 on decorations, costumes and candy, up a bit from $75 last year, but down from the peak of $80 per person in 2012, according to the National Retail Federation.

Total Halloween spending is projected to be nearly $7 billion.
Source: National Retail Federation

Monday, August 25, 2014

Is August now the best month for births?

For the past few years, I've been updating data about birth seasonality and noting that September is the most common birth month of the year.

This year I was updating the data to show 2012 and 2013 births, and discovered that...

August edged out September for the most popular birth month of the year!

There is a long-standing and clear pattern of "birth seasonality" resulting from a "seasonal cycle in fecundability" documented in the scientific literature. Holidays and long winter nights are partly to blame for more birthdays in the late summer and early fall, but human biology is at work as well.

In short, in the northern hemisphere, women are more likely to get pregnant in late fall and early winter than at other times of the year. As a result more births occur late summer and early autumn, a trend displayed clearly in the chart below. (In the southern hemisphere, the seasonal peak occurs about 6 months earlier.)

What's new in the past three years is that the peak seems to have shifted a few weeks from September into August.

In the chart below, blue represents lower numbers and red highlights peaks. The left panel is total births in a given month, and the right (as explained below) shows births per day in each month.

In the chart above, you may notice that March 2010 births appear high, but consider that February is a short month, and March is a 31-day month. August also has more days than neighboring month, September.

To correct for this, we can estimate the average number of births per day of the month. With this adjustment the seasonal pattern becomes even more pronounced. (See panel to the right, above.)

Correcting for the number of days per month shows September as the clear leader for births in 2008, 2009, and 2010, as it is in most years. But 2011 shows a slightly different pattern - August leads September by about 75 births per day.

And the August trend continued in 2012 and 2013! In fact, the August peak in 2012 is quite pronounced - more than 300 births per day higher than September.

The lower number of births in September 2011 may, or may not, be a consequence of a massive blizzard that shut down transportation along much of the east coast in December 2010... but the continuation of the pattern bears watching.