Friday, February 14, 2014

The data we love: Fun facts for Valentine's Day


Facebook tries to figure out where people are falling in love. Their latest data show that people in Colorado Springs, CO are most likely to transition from a "Single" status to "In a relationship." El Paso, Louisville, Fort Worth, and San Antonio round out the top 5.

Big cities rank poorly on the Facebook relationship scale: New York and Los Angeles are in the top five least lovey-dovey cities, surpassed only by San Francisco and the District of Columbia.
Source: Wall Street Journal
And an interactive map allows users to explore Valentine's customs around the world.
Interactive Valentines Map


Valentine's Day spending in the United States is expected to top $17.3 billion, according to new survey results released by the National Retail Federation. Spending is expected to be highest on jewelry ($3.9 billion) followed by $3.5 billion on an "evening out."

That works out to $134 per person celebrating the holiday. This is only a 2 percent increase over spending in 2013, and the highest in the survey's decade-long history.

And Americans will exchange 180 million Valentine cards.


U.S. producers sold more than $16 million in cut roses in 2012 (estimated wholesale value for all operations with $100,000 or more in sales) according to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service Floriculture Crops 2012 Summary.

To support holiday spending, shoppers can choose from more than 23,000 jewelry stores and more than 15,000 florists nationwide, according to the U.S. Census Bureau County Business Patterns survey.


To satisfy millions of sweet-toothed customers, the NECCO candy company produces approximately 100,000 pounds of Sweethearts conversation hearts each day for 11 months of the year.

This adds up more than 8 billion heart-shaped candies annually.

Data from the Census Bureau show that U.S. chocolate companies produced $13.5 billion worth of chocolate in 2011, and a 2009 study from Nielsen research showed that Valentines week accounts for more than 5 percent of annual chocolate sales.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Love, marriage, and a baby carriage

In honor of St. Valentine...(an update of last year's popular post "Love and Marriage" )

Some startling observations about love and marriage in the U.S.:

  • Marriages are lasting longer
  • People are getting married older but "sooner"
  • Condom sales are highest in February
  • Home pregnancy test kit sales are highest in March


According to recent news, the longest-married couple in the United States tied the knot 82 years ago.

Valentine image source
While this may be an unusual feat, marriage duration has (on average) increased in recent years. 80 percent of marriages last at least 5 years, and 68 percent last 10 years or more, according to data compiled by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention based on the National Survey of Family Growth (2006-2010). This is an increase from the 2002 survey, in which 78 percent of marriages last at least 5 years and two thirds last 10 years or more.

While average age at first marriage has been increasing, divorce rates have also fallen, from 4 divorces per 1,000 population in 2000 to 3.6 per 1,000 in 2011. Divorce rates peaked in the years changes in divorce laws that occurred in the mid 1970s, but then leveled off and fell slightly. Some of this trend can be attributed to lower marriage rates (fewer marriages lead to fewer divorces), but some is likely a result of people waiting longer to get married in the first place.

But perhaps most interesting is new analysis by the U.S. Census Bureau which shows that while age at first marriage has risen, life expectancy has increased more rapidly, so people are getting married "sooner" even though they get married older.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau


According to many news sources, condom sales are highest in February (in the US and in India, for example). However, a National Institutes of Health study shows that increased condom sales do not necessarily translate to increased condom usage, which might explain the next phenomenon...

Nielsen research notes that sales of home pregnancy tests are higher March than any other time of the year:
Perhaps as a result of Valentine’s Day romance, more pregnancy and infertility test kits are sold approximately six weeks after Valentine’s Day than at any other time of the year. Consumers spend more than $15 million*on pregnancy and infertility test kits during the second, third and fourth weeks of March, with the third week of March ranking number one** in sales.
Notes: *Three weeks ending March 24, 2007 showed total sales of $15.4 million for pregnancy and infertility test kits in U.S. food, drug and mass merchandiser stores, including Wal-Mart. **One week ending March 24, 2007 showed total sales of $5.2 million for pregnancy and infertility test kits in U.S. food, drug and mass merchandiser stores, including Wal-Mart.
Despite the sales data, births are actually highest in late summer and early autumn, as a result of pregnancies in late autumn and early winter of the prior calendar year. This trend, known as a "seasonal cycle in fecundability" is well documented in the scientific literature.