Thursday, February 12, 2015

Love and marriage (observations for Valentine's Day 2015)

Valentine image source
In honor of St. Valentine...
an update of last year's popular "Love, Marriage, and a Baby Carriage," and the very popular 2013 "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


Men and women in the U.S. are single longer than ever before. The average age at first marriage for women has risen to an all-time high of 26.6, and men are waiting (almost) until they turn 30.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Despite rising age at first marriage, 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.

While average age at first marriage has been increasing, and it is incredibly difficult to get an accurate measurement of the rate of divorce, by all accounts divorce rates are falling. One measure shows that the rate fell from 4 divorces per 1,000 population in 2000 to 3.6 per 1,000 in 2011. By Census Bureau measures, 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.

Longer life expectancy and lower divorce rates mean that 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.


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.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

My Valentine: data we love


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.

Where does all of that chocolate come from?

Côte d'Ivoire leads global production, followed by Ghana and Indonesia.
Source: GeoLounge


Valentine's Day spending in the United States is expected to top $18.9 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 $142 per person celebrating the holiday. This is more than a 6 percent increase over spending in 2014, and the highest in the survey's decade-long history.

And Americans will exchange 180 million Valentine cards and 196 million roses.


U.S. producers sold more than $16.7 million in cut roses in 2013 (estimated wholesale value for all operations with $100,000 or more in sales) according to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service Floriculture Crops 2013 Summary.

To support holiday spending, shoppers can choose from more than 23,000 jewelry stores and more than 14,000 florists nationwide, according to the U.S. Census Bureau County Business Patterns survey.


And an interactive map allows users to explore Valentine's customs around the world.
Interactive Valentines Map